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Universal Pictures Partnership to Benefit NZ Film Industry

Partnership with Universal Pictures & MRC's Film Mortal Engines to Bring Significant Economic, Cultural & Industry Benefits to New Zealand

19 December 2017 - The New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC) and Education New Zealand (ENZ) have partnered with Universal Pictures, MRC and Hungry City Limited on the upcoming film Mortal Engines as a part of the New Zealand Screen Production Grant 5% uplift. The large-scale production of Mortal Engines is of great significance for the New Zealand screen industry, with production taking place entirely in New Zealand.

The announcement comes as the teaser trailer for the film was released—revealing the first look at the epic feature film by New Zealand Director Christian Rivers and Producers Zane Weiner, Amanda Walker, Deborah Forte, Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson.

The filmmakers and studios chose New Zealand to film Mortal Engines due to New Zealand’s world class crew, talent, technicians and facilities.

Rivers also knew that Kiwis were exceptional world builders. He said: “It’s a testament to the skill, talent and imagination of New Zealand crews that they are able to completely fabricate these other worlds that have never been seen before. Our crews are extraordinary.”

Principal photography took place over 16 weeks in Wellington, New Zealand, earlier this year. The film was shot at Stone Street and Avalon Studios and at a few small local exterior locations. Post production is currently underway at Park Road Post Production with visual effects work being realised by Academy Award®-winning company Weta Digital.

More than 1,000 New Zealanders—including crew, cast and craftspeople—were contracted during principal photography. Nearly all of the Head of Departments were Kiwis, as were 98% of the crew. New Zealanders also feature heavily in front of the camera, with more than 70% of the 50 speaking roles going to New Zealanders.

“New Zealand offers some of the best and most talented crews we have worked with, said MRC. “We remain incredibly impressed by the collaborative atmosphere of the entire team and its unmatched ability to oversee a film adaptation of this magnitude.”

The MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the partners recognises the significant economic, cultural and industry benefits the Mortal Engines production will bring to New Zealand. This includes a detailed marketing partnership with NZFC and ENZ to promote New Zealand’s screen and education interests.

NZFC Chief Executive Dave Gibson noted the partnership not only provides considerable economic benefits but will also strengthen the perception of the New Zealand screen industry internationally.

Mortal Engines gives us the opportunity to profile the New Zealand screen industry on the world stage—including our talented pool of actors, experienced crew, and facilities. In doing so, this showcases that New Zealand can cater for large scale full-service productions.”

ENZ Chief Executive Grant McPherson said the partnership with Mortal Engines and the NZFC provides an exceptional opportunity to build brand awareness of New Zealand as a high quality education destination for international students. “This film was made in New Zealand because of the depth of talent and level of technical sophistication available here. This partnership allows us to showcase New Zealand’s education strengths in the creative arts—in which we are not just world-class but world-leading—and which offer our graduates global-career opportunities. It supports our brand positioning of New Zealand as a modern, dynamic and creative country with a lot to offer in the highly competitive international education market.”

He welcomed the opportunity to tell the stories of recent graduates and industry professionals who worked on Mortal Engines in ENZ’s global marketing programme. “This includes telling the story across our one-million-strong social communities, paid digital advertising programme, worldwide PR, events and other in-market activity.”

Mortal Engines opens worldwide in December 2018.

The teaser trailer can be viewed here.

About Mortal Engines

Thousands of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, humankind has adapted and a new way of living has evolved. Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller traction towns. Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan)—who hails from a Lower Tier of the great traction city of London—finds himself fighting for his own survival after he encounters the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Two opposites, whose paths should never have crossed, forge an unlikely alliance that is destined to change the course of the future.

Mortal Engines is the startling, new epic adventure directed by Oscar®-winning visual-effects artist Christian Rivers (King Kong). Joining Rivers are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies three-time Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who have penned the screenplay. The Universal and MRC adaptation is from the award-winning book series by Philip Reeve, published in 2001 by Scholastic.

On board as producers are Zane Weiner (The Hobbit trilogy), Amanda Walker (The Hobbit trilogy) and Deborah Forte (Goosebumps), as well as Walsh and Jackson. Ken Kamins (The Hobbit trilogy) joins Boyens as executive producer. Universal will distribute the film worldwide.


About the Production and the Books

MRC and Universal are co-financing the film, and Universal will also serve as worldwide distributor. Production began in New Zealand in Spring 2017, and the film will be released worldwide in December 2018.

Published in 2001 by Scholastic, Reeve’s “Mortal Engines” books have won several prestigious awards including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Smarties Gold Award and Blue Peter Book of the Year.

About the New Zealand Film Commission

The New Zealand Film Commission invests in original and culturally significant films, encourages talented New Zealand filmmakers through developing career pathways and facilitating connections offshore, and works to increase the number of people seeing New Zealand films here and overseas. It is responsible for marketing New Zealand’s screen production industry overseas and attracting international screen productions to New Zealand. The NZFC supports the growth of economic activity and helps ensure New Zealand has sustainable screen sector businesses operating within an internationally competitive screen sector. The NZFC also helps negotiate co-production treaties and is responsible for administering the New Zealand Screen Production Grant, the Post, Digital and Visual Effects Grant and the 5% Uplift, and for certifying official co-productions and New Zealand films for tax purposes.

International productions are eligible for a grant rebate of 20 per cent of qualifying New Zealand production expenditure. An additional 5 per cent grant is available to applicants who demonstrate significant economic benefits to New Zealand, recognising that screen productions can raise New Zealand’s profile internationally, attract high value tourists, international students and profile innovative and creative people and technologies.

About Education New Zealand

Education New Zealand (ENZ) is New Zealand’s government agency for international education. ENZ works to grow awareness of New Zealand as a study destination and to support New Zealand education providers and businesses to take their services and products abroad. International education is New Zealand’s fourth largest export earner, valued at $4.5 billion in 2016. See

www.studyinnewzealand.govt.nzfor more information.

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