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Christchurch Takes Centre Stage When Dark City: The Cleaner Launches March 4

A dark television series filmed in in the heart of Ōtautahi Christchurch is set to put the spotlight on Christchurch and provide a major boost to the screen industry.

Dark City: The Cleaner launches on NEON and Sky’s SoHo channel on March 4 with a free-to-air broadcast on Sky Open scheduled later this year. Based on the debut novel of acclaimed Christchurch crime writer Paul Cleave, it features many familiar locations around the city.

The 6x1 hour series was based in the city for seven months last year and was the largest production attracted to Canterbury through the Screen CanterburyNZ production grant. The grant distributed up to $1.5 millions of funding over a three-year cycle supporting eleven productions overall. The scheme has delivered significant economic impact, with the total spend in the region exceeding $14 million due to the productions it attracted.

Dark City: The Cleaner producers alone spent more than $4 million on Christchurch-based personnel, facilities, services and resources. This was a return on investment of more than 20:1 from the $200,000 the production received from the Grant.

Major productions like this also promote a strong creative economy. Take The Lord of the Rings effect that still influences both domestic and international tourism 20 years later. Global screen production is at an all-time high and is forecast to continue. Creative industries are a significant source of commercial and cultural value with New Zealand's arts and creative sector contributing $14.9 billion to the total economy. The production grant initiative aims for Canterbury to both grow and get a greater share of that pot.

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Head of Screen CanterburyNZ Petrina D’Rozario says the impact extends beyond economics. 
“All of the productions made here have provided so many upskilling opportunities for local crew as well as an increased use of local screen facilities. There’s also that distinct buzz that happens when the cameras are rolling – it’s a fantastic experience for the community and adds to the vibrancy around the city. And locals seeing their hometown on screen creates a real sense of pride.”

Led by veteran Kiwi screen producers John Barnett and Chloe Smith, Dark City: The Cleaner is a Sky NZ Original produced in association with Lionsgate Television with support from New Zealand Government's Te Puna Kairangi Premium Productions for International Audiences Fund and NZ On Air. It features Hunt for the Wilderpeople actor Cohen Holloway and Chelsie Preston Crayford, who has appeared in hit horror film M3gan and left-field comedy Nude Tuesday.

John Barnett says the production team enjoyed shooting Dark City: The Cleaner in Christchurch.

"It made sense for us to shoot in Christchurch because Paul Cleave’s novel is set there and Paul is an internationally respected crime writer with 12 titles so far, all set in his hometown. Secondly, Christchurch presents a setting to international audiences, which they haven’t seen before, and it’s vibrant and engaging. And thirdly, from a production point of view, it’s an easy city to shoot in, with accessible locations, ease of movement, and willing crews and services."

Barnett believes Christchurch has great potential to capture international production with its new studio plans and growing workforce of film crew and resources.

Dark City: The Cleaner will be launched with a premiere of the first episode in Auckland on Tuesday 27 February/tonight, plus a local cast and crew screening in Christchurch on March 4, just a few hours before it hits NEON. It will also air on Sky’s SoHo channel, the premiere service thatshowcases some of the best global content – including HBO, Showtime and FX.

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