Government grants are essential for hooking big budget movies into coming back, the producer of the latest Hollywood blockbuster to film in New Zealand says.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine producer Ralph Winter, who cut his teeth on the Star Trek films and has produced the other three X-Men movies, told The Press from Sydney that the New Zealand Government’s grant of 15 per cent made a huge difference.

“Particularly when the US dollar is taking a beating around the world and you’re spending $15 million to $20m in New Zealand.

“We keep track of those things very, very carefully in our accounting department because those are big dollars.”

Economic Development Minister Pete Hodgson said the Large Budget Screen Production Grant ensured New Zealand remained internationally competitive in the film sector.

“Since 2003 the Government has paid out just over $100m, which means that an additional $800m has been brought into the New Zealand economy.”

Film New Zealand chief executive Judith McCann said the grants, introduced at 12.5 per cent  in 2003 and lifted to 15 per cent  last July, were crucial and had been hugely effective.

“Essentially it’s to attract production here which generates more than 15 per cent  of expenditures – it means you’re attracting 85 per cent  you wouldn’t have had anyway.”

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