Lake Wanaka by pixabay.com

Film studio decision is welcome news for Otago

A $280 million film studio complex will be built near Wānaka, after resource consent was granted earlier this month.

Silverlight Studios is behind the development of what will be New Zealand’s first large-scale, purpose-built film studio complex, which is expected to take about ten years to build.

The company estimates the development could create 4134 jobs in its first year alone, and at least 1700 jobs annually over the following decade. It is also predicted to boost GDP by $1.7 billion, including $969 million to the Queenstown Lakes economy.

Business South Chief Executive, Mike Collins, says news of its approval is a massive boost for the region and the country.

“Clearly, this is going to have hugely positive flow-on effects in terms of employment and economic impact within Otago and nationally. This is especially welcome news for the Queenstown Lakes region, which has suffered considerably as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.”

Silverlight Studios applied for consent under the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020, which was introduced to support economy-boosting initiatives during the global pandemic.

“It is really encouraging to see such a significant project approved in just 96 business days under the Government’s fast-track scheme."

Mike Collins notes that it’s excellent timing for the country to be investing in its world-renowned film and entertainment industry.

“This new studio perfectly positions the region to play a significant role in helping meet ever-increasing global demand for quality film and television content and the studio space in which to film it. This will present fantastic opportunities for the talented individuals and businesses within the creative sector, both here in Otago and nationally.”

The massive film studio will be built on 322 hectares and will include a film school, a screening theatre, exhibition centre, an artificial lake and up to 10 sound stages. There will be recreations of cinematic international locations such as Venice and New York. It will feature production offices, training facilities, cafés, restaurants, tourism, hospitality and conference facilities and specialist film-related retail outlets.

Silverlight Studios says the complex will “welcome New Zealanders and international tourists into the magic of movie-making”, with construction set to begin late next year.