April 09, 2019

2018 screen industry revenue cools with growth in post-production activity

New Zealand screen industry gross revenue waned in 2018, decreasing 8 percent to $3.3b.

A decline in production activity in 2018 saw decreases in production revenue and overseas funding. Screen revenue peaked at $3.5b in 2017, but decreases of 20 percent in production revenue and 11 percent in television broadcasting saw it return to 2016 levels. Production includes writing, pre-production, development, and filming of feature films, television shows, commercials, online-only programmes, and other forms of media.

New Zealand’s film capital, Wellington, saw a $114m decrease in production revenue in 2018 with less films in the works. 2017 was a blockbuster year with productions including Ghost in the Shell, Thor: Ragnarok, and Mortal Engines contributing to 55 percent of overall film production being in Wellington ($631m). The 2018 cooling was partly offset by post-production revenue increases of $45m, with big budget films such as Mortal Engines, Avengers: Infinity War and Alita: Battle Angel requiring considerable post-production activity.

Overall post-production revenue increased 21 percent on 2017 to $764m. This is an expected follow-on from the high production levels of 2017 in Wellington, but Auckland’s post-production activity also grew $86m on 2017. The bulk of NZ-produced TV shows and commercials are made in Auckland. Post-production includes editing, visual and special effects, and subtitling.

Source: Statistics NZ

Television broadcasting revenue also fell $153m to $1.2b in 2018. Audiences shifting to streaming platforms are thought to have contributed to the drop. This figure has continued to trend downwards from $1.4bn in 2014. Distribution revenue also dropped 22 percent to $74m, nearly half the 2014 figure of $153m.

New Zealand government funding for screen production was $227m in 2018, an increase of 9 percent over 2017, as New Zealand Screen Production Grant funding doubled to $96m. However, broadcaster funding and financing continued a three year downward trend, and fell 12 percent to $47m. Total funding and financing from New Zealand sources was estimated at $296m overall, a similar figure to the previous two years. Funding from overseas sources fell, particularly in feature film funding, reflecting the reduction in production activity. This contributed to an overall drop of $99m in total production funding from all sources to $589 million in 2018.

Source: Statistics NZ

Screen industry employment increased by 3,100 employees in 2017 to 16,200. These people cumulatively worked in 29,700 jobs, or contracts. The increase in production jobs in 2017 increased employment in this area of the screen industry, and earnings also increased 87 percent to $186m. Screen industry employment data is based on Linked Employer-Employee Data, and there is a year lag behind the Screen Industry Survey data. The latest figures are for 2017.

The annual screen industry data release covers businesses that take part in production, post-production, distribution, exhibition, and broadcasting activities. It includes information about screen industry revenue, expenditure, production activity, and employment. In 2018, the sample size was reduced from 3,300 businesses to around 1,800 units to reduce cost and respondent burden.