Monday 1 October 2018

Stupid Avatar

I hated the idea of Avatar enough that I didn't want to pay to see it at cinema. The snippets I've caught on TV haven't changed my mind about it.

But it looks like I'll be paying for it for as long as the subsidy-milking franchise is willing to keep on going.

Remember the old days of agricultural subsidies where farmers took money to produce stuff like mutton that people didn't much want to eat?

Matt Nippert goes through a bit more of the film subsidy madness.
The government has abandoned plans to rein in ballooning subsides for Hollywood, citing film industry opposition and the threat of lawsuits from the producers of James Cameron's Avatar films.

The Weekend Herald reported in June these payments - that sees studios get cash payments of up to 25 per cent of their local spending on productions - had totalled $575 million since 2010, prompting Economic Development Minister David Parker to announce he was looking at ways to cap or limit the escalating costs to taxpayers.

But yesterday Parker, speaking from Australia, said following consultations with industry around the viability of their business - and thousands of accompanying jobs - without subsidies, and legal advice over a 2013 deal signed with Avatar producers, said cuts or changes to the subsidy scheme were now off the table.

"We're not proposing to introduce a cap. We accept that the subsides are necessary, and we accept there's a benefit to the country," he said.
Parker said the costs to government from that deal would be significant. The 2013 agreement suggests the Avatar films will cost a minimum of $500m, of which a quarter - or $125m - will be paid by government.

Actual spending on the films - and the accompanying subsidy - is likely to substantially exceed this minimum as two films are already in production with the prospect of two more in the pipeline. The first Avatar film cost $360m to produce in 2009, and Hobbit trilogy of films, also filmed in Wellington under the subsidy scheme, ended up costing a total just over $1b.

Parker sheeted this exposure, potentially hundreds of millions of dollars to the taxpayer, back to the previous National government.
Is there really no way of getting out of this mess?

We've gotten ourselves into a particularly stupid equilibrium where we're throwing tons of money at the film industry so that NZ film school grads will be able to get jobs, and we're subsidising training the next crop of hostages to the film subsidies.

New Zealand is too small to be able to afford a lot of this kind of stupid.

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