Avatar Bails On NZ?

I say no way Jose but a series of articles raised a legitimate question in my mind: With the next Rings films to be made at Weta, is it feasible to also take on the work of not one but two Avatars?

You would figure Weta would be a shoe-in to continue on Avatar but not according to managing director Joe Letteri:

As far as dealing with the effects or live-action shooting, it’s still entirely possible, and still up for discussion, that Jim will still shoot the live action here and we’ll still do the effects.

Add to that a recent article proclaiming that the Avatar sequels will create hundreds of jobs in the US for out of work vfx artists:

Famed director James Cameron’s groundbreaking hits like “Titanic” and “Avatar” have grossed millions worldwide, but he tells Pop Tarts that the films’ global appeal will not stop him from filming “Avatar” sequels here in the U.S. in a move that will create hundreds of jobs for Americans.

While I have serious doubts about the implication that Avatar will be made in the US, there are some serious issues to consider.

If you remember, I wrote a post about scale.

VFX for films like Avatar are very labor intensive and draw upon a huge workforce to be able to finish the job. There was a ton a work being done at vfx facilities in the UK and California also. At one point Weta was hiring artists with free flights, hotel rooms, and rental cars and all you had to do was finish one shot!

If Weta is going to work on 2 Rings film and 2 Avatar sequels, there is going to be an unprecedented crunch for resources and personnel in NZ.

There is also the issue of subsidies as Avatar Producer Jon Landau mentions:

Landau also told the LA Times the team had seriously considered moving to New Zealand or Canada for the sequels to take advantage of tax breaks.

In fact I previously pointed out that Landau ultimately chose NZ because of the subsidies:

Asked in December why New Zealand was chosen as the film’s production location, Avatar producer Jon Landau said: “To be honest, we went for the tax credit.”

However, if you read my blog, you know that I have pointed out how WB leveraged the NZ government into giving it more subsidy money because of the rise in the NZ dollar and the rise of more lucrative subsidies in other countries.

So it’s official, Avatar will be made in the US right? I highly doubt it and here’s why.

The article by Fox News is a farce and just for publicity. The hundreds of jobs to be created comes from a quote by an Art Institute instructor who Fox News deems an “expert”.

Secondly, Avatar’s pre-production was previously done in the US at the Playa Vista studios with many US vfx artists. If anything they’ll re-hire most of those people when shooting begins but that doesn’t mean they can or will do the vfx post-production here. I could totally be wrong. Perhaps Cameron was smart to make sure the Avatar character assets are portable so another company could use them. Not the first time I’ve heard a vfx company sell off it’s birthright.

My money is on Avatar being made by Weta but the capacity issue is a legitimate concern. I believe there will be a bit of jockeying to get the NZ government to give Fox the same deal WB got in increased taxpayer money.

When the king of the world takes on a country with an economy that rivals the state of Iowa, who do you think is going to win?

Soldier On.

3 Responses to Avatar Bails On NZ?

  1. vfxPeon says:

    I think you’re overlooking this article from the LA Times from last month:

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/may/25/business/la-fi-ct-onlocation-20110525

    It states that Raleigh Studios in LA County is building new facilities specifically for the Avatar sequels production and post-production. They’re even building two gyms!

    Sounds like good news to me.

  2. meh says:

    It’s Still the Economy, Stupid
    Fourteen million Americans remain out of work, a waste of our greatest resource. The 42nd president has more than a dozen ideas on how to attack the jobs crisis.
    Without regard to their party or their philosophy, Americans have always been great at the art of the deal. The real thing that has killed us in the last 10 years is that too much of our dealmaking creativity has been devoted to expanding the financial sector in ways that don’t create new businesses and more jobs and to persuading people to take on excessive debt loads to make up for the fact that their incomes are stagnant. That’s one reason why we’ve been suffering from anemic employment for years. In the seven years and eight months that preceded the meltdown, our economy produced a meager 4 million new jobs, far too few to cope with millions coming into the workforce, and virtually all those jobs were created in housing, finance, and consumer spending.
    http://www.newsweek.com/2011/06/19/it-s-still-the-economy-stupid.print.html

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