3 Mar 2017

Kumeu shark movie set to become permanent studio

7:23 am on 3 March 2017

A deal has been struck to build a permanent film studio in Kumeu with a string of overseas productions being discussed.

The film studio tanks where Meg was filmed in Kumeu, Auckland.

The water tanks at the film studio where Meg was filmed in Kumeu, Auckland. Photo: Supplied/ATEED

The studio is in a former wallboard factory sitting on 27 hectares of Auckland's rural northwest.

Auckland Council's economic development agency has teamed up with the Film Commission, Warner Brothers and China's Gravity Pictures to expand the facility, which was built for a on-off production.

Two large water tanks were set up there for the shark horror film Meg, due for release next year. The US-Chinese co-production, starring Jason Statham, employed up to 400 people.

The tanks themselves have become the basis for the studio plan, and the property's private owner will build a sound stage.

Film Commission chief executive Dave Gibson said the permanent studio would bring bigger, and a more consistent flow, of productions.

"To some extent Auckland's been held back by a lack of studio infrastructure. There are studios here but not really big space and certainly things like the dive tank and the water tank with the green screen will really make a difference."

British actor Jason Statham and China's Li Bingbing in the movie "Meg" which was the first to be filmed at the Kumeu facility.

British actor Jason Statham and China's Li Bingbing in the movie Meg - the first to be filmed at the Kumeu facility. Photo: Supplied / Warner Brothers

Mr Gibson said there was no doubt productions are out there to be secured at a time of worldwide boom in film and television-making

The role of the council-owned agency, ATEED, is to guarantee a basic level of business in a four year deal.

Chief executive Brett O'Riley said the first year's target was already met and one significant production was on the way. The prospects look good.

"As a result of this very unique partnership, Warner Brothers and Gravity are already showing us a pipeline of future activity that they want to bring to this facility," said Mr O'Riley.

Mr O'Riley said the new facility wouldn't affect bookings for the council-owned film studios in Henderson, which were strong. There was so much work the city had not been able to accommodate one recent production.

In this deal, ATEED could, for the first time, recover costs it incurred in successfully attracting a foreign production to the city.