Auckland Unlimited leading $35m project to transform historic studios
- $30m of funding from the Government to help transform Auckland Council-owned Auckland Film Studios in Henderson is a momentous milestone for the region’s screen industry
- Council has committed $5 million co-funding to the project, which will see two new sound stages and other buildings added to the site, which has been the region’s screen production backbone for decades
- Auckland’s economic and cultural agency Auckland Unlimited will drive the expansion project, with the work expected to start at the end of this month and be finished by September 2022
Today’s announcement of $30 million New Zealand Government funding for a major expansion – including two new sound stages – at Auckland Council-owned Auckland Film Studios (AFS) will deliver crucial extra capacity for the region’s booming screen industry.
As its part of the agreement, Council has committed $5 million co-funding for the expansion of the studios in Henderson which are managed on behalf of Council by Eke Panuku Development Auckland, and operated by Auckland Unlimited.
The Government’s commitment followed a successful application for COVID-19 infrastructure funding last year by Auckland Unlimited, the regional economic development and cultural agency.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the Government’s contribution.
“Auckland has established a strong reputation as a centre of excellence for film-making,” he says.
“The new investment in film studios expands facilities to meet the international demand to make new screen content here and will bring tens of millions in expenditure and jobs to the west Auckland area.
“Estimates are for up to 300 new production-related jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs in businesses across the city that support the film industry.
“The film industry brings high-paid, high-skilled jobs and creates a profile for the city. It’s the sort of industry that Auckland wants to promote.
“The expansion of facilities created by the government grant, together with council support, means our region’s screen production capacity is significantly increased, and that’s great news for Aucklanders,” Phil Goff said.
Along with the region’s other studio space, the one large and two smaller current sound stages at AFS are in high demand.
AFS has been the backbone of the region’s screen production industry for decades – hosting dozens of international and domestic television series and commercials, and feature film productions. Numerous screen-related businesses are located nearby.
The Government’s funding will allow construction of two new 2000m2 sound stages and development of further workshops and offices.
Additional studio infrastructure at AFS will help drive local employment and business development in the area.
“A much larger AFS facility will mean Auckland has another truly world-class option to host large-scale productions on a single studio site, or be able to host multiple small or mid-size projects at the same time. So the funding is hugely transformative for the region’s screen industry,” says Mayor Goff.
“An expanded AFS reinforces Auckland and New Zealand as a destination for international screen production, particularly with New Zealand regarded as having had a successful approach to the COVID pandemic that has largely enabled productions to keep operating.”
Initial design work for the AFS expansion was completed prior to the application, and with the Government’s funding confirmed final planning and preparation is underway ready for construction to start in the final quarter of this year. That construction work is expected to provide more than 100 additional jobs.
In the past two years, a number of required upgrades and refits have taken place at AFS, and in 2019 it was one of the key Auckland studio sites to be part of a world-class digital network upgrade through a partnership between Auckland Unlimited and Devoli. The network connects Auckland’s studios, production and post-production companies and means high quality large digital files commonly used in the screen industry can be transferred quickly and securely.
Filmed at Auckland Film Studios
A diverse range of productions – from feature films to commercials – have filmed at AFS. Some of the more well-known titles include: The Shannara Chronicles; The Meg; Mr Pip; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; Emperor; Whale Rider; Xena: Warrior Princess and many other New Zealand productions.