Kiwis Let 20-Million-Pound Gorilla Sit Anywhere He Wants


The latest installment of Edward Jay Epstein's always interesting Hollywood Economist column contains a suprising factoid about the financing of Peter Jacksons compensation for directing King Kong:

And, making a sweet deal even sweeter, the New Zealand citizenship of Jackson and his team qualified Universal for a cash subsidy from the New Zealand government that could be as high as $20 million (and by itself could pay Jackson's entire fixed compensation).

That's a true fact, and the figure looks even more impressive when you exchange it for quaint New Zealand "dollars." The NZ government's justification for this largess to the massively successful director is that these subsidies attract production Down Under (where movie production tax breaks are no doubt as vitally necessary as they are in California).

Despite Paul Hogan's rearguard efforts to depict Australians as rugged individualists, the people of the ANZAC countries are among the greatest devotees of the public tit in either hemisphere. But even if you've got no principled objection to government handouts, aren't there more needy subjects than a bazillionaire filmmaker with so much clout he can get a major studio to spend hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars on an ill-conceived remake (which he almost certainly would have filmed in New Zealand even without government assistance)? Did Jackson use all that money for the liposuction? Aren't there some Maori orphans or old people on fixed incomes or sheep farmers who need incentives not to farm*? If nothing else, shouldn't New Zealanders be able to work up some anti-American fury at the idea of Universal getting all that money from their taxes?

* This is not meant to imply anything about NZ ag subsidies, which, as commenter chris points out, were mostly eliminated in the 1980s. Go, Kiwis!