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Comic-Con a boost for Auckland industry

ATEED, Auckland, 13 July 2015: Auckland’s growing screen industry has received fantastic global recognition with the US release of the first trailer for the 10-part television series The Shannara Chronicles, which is now in post-production after finishing filming in Auckland last month.

Following growing anticipation among the fans of Terry Brooks’ best-selling fantasy novels, the trailer was revealed at the hugely influential Comic-Con International event in San Diego, California by its producers – MTV and Sonar Entertainment. It has already received world-wide media coverage and gone viral among the Shannara series’ huge fan base with more than 420,000 YouTube watches within hours of its release.

Two other major international television productions underway in Auckland – Power Rangers Dino Charge and Ash vs Evil Dead – are also headlining at the annual three-day convention attracts more than 130,000 fans and media coverage from across the world.

The specialist Screen Auckland team at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) played a significant part in bringing The Shannara Chronicles to the region, and helped the production to make the most of both Auckland Film Studios and the region’s unique locations.

Screen Auckland manager Michael Brook congratulated The Shannara Chronicles’ producers on the publicity generated at Comic-Con: “We were delighted to help convince the producers to come to Auckland with a production that is worth tens of millions to our local economy. The project has employed more than 300 local crew and extras, and will add to our growing reputation as a screen production location.”

In the trailer, The Shannara Chronicles’ Executive Producer Jon Favreau says: “The talent that’s been assembled, the variety of locations, the beautiful backdrop of New Zealand – it really establishes the world of The Shannara Chronicles in a way that separates it from other genre tales.”

In his blogsite last month, Terry Brooks wrote: “I am in awe of the sets, both indoors and out, which are so much better than I had any right to hope for. I think the writers have done an incredible job with turning the book [The Elfstones of Shannara] into a TV series.”

Ash vs Evil Dead, which is currently in production in Auckland for Starz Entertainment, is the long-awaited follow-up to the classic horror film franchise The Evil Dead. The 10-episode first season is executive produced by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, Bruce Campbell, the original filmmakers of the franchise, and Craig DiGregorio – executive producer and showrunner. The series’ cast and creators, including star Lucy Lawless are taking part in a panel discussion at Comic-Con and its trailer has been revealed online.

Saban Brands’ Power Rangers has been made in Auckland for more than a decade, and is one of the top rated and longest running kids’ live-action television shows (now in its 22nd season). At Comic-Con, the cast and crew of Power Rangers Dino Charge is offering sneak peeks of upcoming episodes, exclusive giveaways, and a Q&A session.

It has been a boom period for Auckland’s screen production industry. In addition to the international television and feature films, there have been a range of international television commercials for household names such as Samsung, Lipton Tea, Ford, and BMW in the past year; and major local productions slated for Auckland this year include Lee Tamahori and Robin Scholes collaboration The Patriarch, and Toa Fraser’s next feature film 6 Days.

Michael Brook says: “The Government’s improved tax incentives for international productions announced last year restored New Zealand’s, and therefore Auckland’s, global competitiveness and gave confidence to international producers who were considering making films here. But our region’s talented fast turnaround crews, and access to unique and widely diverse locations, are also crucial for attracting international productions.”

In the 2014/15 financial year to 30 June, Screen Auckland processed a record 543 Auckland Council film permits for filming in open public spaces across the region, for screen production worth an estimated $129 million. The 2014 year industry economic data released by Statistics New Zealand showed that screen production and post-production in Auckland produced gross revenue of $647 million (nearly half the national industry).

To learn more about Screen Auckland’s activities, go to www.aucklandnz.com/screen.

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