Press Release – Film New Zealand
The Auckland-made television series Spartacus: War of the Damned stormed the ratings when the first episode debuted on the STARZ Network in the US last Friday.
The final season of the Starz franchise saw more than 2.5million viewers on its premiere weekend and produced the second highest ratings performance (5.5 gross ratings point/GRP) ever on a Friday night for a STARZ Original series premiere.
The series was made in Auckland on behalf of Starz Entertainment by Executive Producer and creative force Rob Tapert for Pacific Renaissance. Since filming started in 2009 the series is credited with injecting more than $200million into the Auckland economy.
Mr Tapert says he’s delighted with the results.
“Not really for the numbers but to know that we have engaged fans and hooked them on a storyline and style of storytelling that has kept them coming back. It’s always a great feeling to know that people are enjoying the show and that all the hard work has paid off,” Mr Tapert says.
“It reaffirms what I have believed in for over 18 years. New Zealand has the capabilities, the knowledge and the talent to continue creating world class entertainment that is able to capture the fascination of audiences everywhere. This production, on every level, has poured its heart into the show and the immense success of the series is a direct reflection of their passion.”
Film New Zealand CEO Gisella Carr says these ratings are great news for New Zealand’s profile internationally, and a huge vote of support for the creative teams who put together such an ambitious television production.
“The eyes of the international screen industry are on New Zealand right now. Internationally television production is riding the crest of a wave, and we want to bring more of this kind of business to New Zealand.
“The success of Spartacus and the profile it’s giving our industry can’t be underestimated as we work to attract incoming international production.
“Since Rob Tapert first came here from the US in the mid-1990s to shoot Hercules, he’s made a huge investment in developing the New Zealand crew base and our screen industry here.
“Over the past four years Spartacus employed 350 permanent and 150 casual crew each week, and 20 core cast each season. The production used 788 local suppliers, leased 6 warehouses which were re-purposed as studios, and provided 20,000 days of work for extras.
“Television is key to creating ongoing and sustainable employment in the screen industry.”
Rob Tapert has been the driving force behind Hercules:The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Legend of the Seeker, 30 Days of Nigh. He is currently completing work on a remake of the cult classic horror film Evil Dead, also shot in Auckland and due for release in April. He promises the film will scare the pants off a whole new generation of horror fans, and says he looks forward to bringing future production to New Zealand.
Spartacus: War of the Damned is the third and final instalment in the Spartacus franchise.
The weekend performance was in line with the 2.7 million viewers that viewed the season finale to Spartacus: Vengeance during its premiere weekend this past April. Spartacus: Vengeance, averaged more than 6 million viewers across multi-platform viewing, including DVR and on-demand.