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Avatar sequels to be shot in New Zealand

James Cameron and 20th Century Fox announced a deal with the government of New Zealand to shoot the next three "Avatar" films there.
Posted By Gabrielle Levy   |   Dec. 16, 2013 at 11:01 AM   |   Comments

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Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The next three Avatar movies will all be filmed in New Zealand, thanks to the recent hike in the film tax rebate and a spending deal between the film's producers and the government.

Director James Cameron and 20th Century Fox co-presidents Jon Landau and Paul Hanneman were on hand for a press conference in Wellington with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key Monday.

As part of the deal, the film productions will spend a minimum of NZ$500 million ($412 million) and will receive in return a film industry tax rebate of 25 percent, raised from 15 percent.

“The Avatar sequels will provide hundreds of jobs and thousands of hours of work directly in the screen sector as well as jobs right across the economy,” Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said in a statement.

Production has already begun with The Hobbit director Peter Jackson's Weta Studios in Wellington, which did the visual effects work on the first Avatar film. As part of the Memorandum of Understanding released Monday, the live action crew will also be made of 90 percent New Zealanders and an internship program will be established.

Cameron said the three films are still expected to be released on the previously announced schedule, with the first due out in December 2016 and the new two following at one-year intervals.

Avatar, released in 2009, remains the highest-grossing film of all time, earning $2.8 billion worldwide.

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