Saturday, May 28, 2005

Wellington, NZ—The Next Hollywood?

Wellington, KS to Wellington, New Zealand is a half a world away. I was in the Kansas Wellington this week, but told them of the other Wellington during my talk. I suggested to them that I thought that the New Zealand version had similar characteristics as Branson, MO when it was just starting to emerge. I recommended that they attempt to establish a sister city relationship, while they are still a relative unknown. Here is the story I related to them.

No one would ever pick Wellington, New Zealand as the next Hollywood, but then again no one would have ever picked Branson, MO as the new live music capital of the USA either. But, today Branson refers to Nashville as “little Branson,” so perhaps it isn’t such a wild dream if you look at that example.

Peter Jackson, the Academy Award-winning director of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, has established a permanent, state-of-the-art, sophisticated film making facility in his hometown of Wellington. He and his partners bought an abandoned paint factory and have completely redone it. They have been inundated with talent from all over the world wishing to work in what might have been considered an “out in the boondocks” place as little as five years ago. But the Rings success, wonderful scenery seen in the Rings movies and Jackson’s reputation is luring them.

Jackson lives in the place he was born in and wants to make his home, is able to recruit in the talent that he needs and is giving back to his hometown. It is a great combination. He is currently putting together a $150 million remake of King Kong in Wellington. What do you think it would have cost to film it in Hollywood?

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