Most film productions are still closed down and waiting for the all-clear following the global shutdown, but one movie is already on track to get back to work. Or rather, two movies are about to get back to work, since Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 are being filmed at the same time in New Zealand. We recently got word that the production in the island nation was getting back underway, but while Avatar fans are probably very excited the long-awaited film is coming, some politicians in New Zealand are less than thrilled.
The issue is that, while New Zealand is reporting nothing but good things when it comes to the state of COVID-19 cases in the country, the borders are still closed. In order for the Avatar film crew to get back to work, they needed a waiver from the New Zealand government to get back in the country, which the production received. However, while the film production received the waiver, a lot of other industries inside New Zealand have not, which has some in the government making claims of "political favouritism."
According to New Zealand's Stuff, the vast majority of waiver requests, as many as nine out of every 10, have been denied, and some are claiming that large businesses like film productions are being treated differently and being given special treatment while local businesses continue to suffer due to closure.
There have actually been two waivers granted for film productions, one is for Avatar, the other is for an undisclosed film. Part of the reason the waiver for the unknown film was granted was reportedly because of claims that, if the waiver wasn't granted, the film ran the risk of never being made at all, and thus not employing all the New Zealand locals the production would need, because key cast members would be committed elsewhere if the production was delayed any further.
For the most part, it doesn't appear there's necessarily a problem with the waivers being given to the film productions, it's rather that the same waivers aren't being given out evenly to other industries as well.
The Avatar films still haven't actually gotten back to work quite yet. Those that made the trip over need to quarantine in their hotels for two weeks before they'll be allowed out to do the work of filming once again. The Avatar team arrived in New Zealand last week.
To some extent the argument that the film productions are receiving special treatment does appear to hold some water. Statements from various government officials have made it clear that the large economic benefit to New Zealand from the film productions was part of the reason the exemptions were given. Smaller local industries may simply be unable to provide the same level of economic impact, regardless of how important those business might be to the individuals directly involved in them.
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