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Jackson to build studio in New Zealand

The state-of-the-art facility is budgeted at $7.8 million
/ Source: The Associated Press

“Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson is building a new movie production center in New Zealand to attract more big-budget Hollywood films to the country.

Jackson and two colleagues are financing much of a state-of-the-art $7.8 million sound stage and production complex in the capital, Wellington.

The government Thursday announced a $1.3 million taxpayer grant for the project.

The lack of large, soundproof stages during the four years of production on “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy forced Jackson to do much of the films’ sound work in London.

His studios are close to the flight path of jets using nearby Wellington Airport, and the roar of planes disrupted shooting on the three movies.

“Rings” co-producer Jamie Selkirk and Richard Taylor, head of special effects companies Weta Workshop and Weta Digital, said Hollywood studios Disney, Paramount, 20th Century Fox and Universal have all visited the site.

They want better soundproofing on sound stages before they consider filming in Wellington, Selkirk said.

“There are times when we’ve shown people through and they’ve said: ‘are they soundproof or are they not?’ All our sound stages are soundproofed to a reasonable standard, but it doesn’t stop (the sound of) jets,” he said.