The upcoming three sequels to James Cameron’s 2009 sci-fi blockbuster “Avatar” will be filmed in New Zealand.
The director made the announcement Monday with producer Jon Landau and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in Wellington, N.Z. The films will be made by Twentieth Century Fox and Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment.
“The Avatar sequels will provide hundreds of jobs and thousands of hours of work directly in the screen sector as well as jobs right across the economy,” Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said in a statement after the parties signed a memorandum of agreement on the projects.
“Avatar” won three Academy Awards and is the highest-grossing film in history, having taken in more than $2.7 billion globally.
Cameron says he plans to complete principal shooting on the three movies at one time, perhaps over a period of about nine months.
At the same, the New Zealand government announced that it was boosting screen production incentives for both overseas and homegrown productions, including raising the baseline rebate from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.
Cameron didn’t disclose an exact budget although he says he expects economies of scale will help the three movies together cost less than $1 billion and that he expects the first sequel to be released in 2016.
Among other things, the agreement calls for Fox and Lightstorm to spend at least $413 million on the productions in New Zealand, hold at least one red carpet premiere there and share technological data. Cameron and Landau have also agreed to serve as founding members on a screen advisory board.