Councillors voted unanimously for what they called a “big, bold, beautiful design”. Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said that favouring the NZ$150m (£83.5m) option over the more basic alternative confirmed the council’s commitment to investing in the city to drive economic growth and global recognition.
The museum is seen as capitalising on the huge numbers of visitors interested in seeing where the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed. “The 300,000 people – most from overseas - who visit Hobbiton in the Waikato every year show the pulling power of the work of Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor,” said chair of the city council’s economic growth and arts committee Jo Coughlan. “Many of those tourists will be tempted to carry on to Wellington to visit the museum.”
“The operational costs over the first 10 years will be similar to what was consulted on, however the benefits will be far greater,” said Wade-Brown. “Wellington deserves an outstanding Convention Centre & Movie Museum facility. Now we’ve confirmed it will be truly spectacular and globally recognisable. International visitors will take ‘selfies’ in front of this spectacular building, which will attract even more people to our city. We’re creating the heritage of tomorrow.
The Movie Museum Limited (TMML) is the company formed by Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor and is responsible for the fit out and operation of the Museum component of the project.
"Today’s Council decision gives the green light to this key economic development project, and gives TMML sufficient time to complete their work on the exhibition and fit-out design and requirements,” said Wade-Brown.
Deputy mayor Justin Lester said: “The Movie Museum will provide a one of a kind experience so it’s absolutely appropriate that we deliver a one-of-a-kind design. Wellington will be able to provide a film-based visitor experience unrivalled anywhere else in the southern hemisphere, and possibly the world. It generates some serious ‘wow factor’ and will create 540 jobs during construction and 568 ongoing jobs once operational.”
The cost of the final proposal has increased from NZ$135m outlined last December to NZ$150m, the key reason being the additional cost to deliver the aspirational façade design, together with other design enhancements.