Netflix series 'Sweet Tooth' generated NZ$66 Million to NZ GDP

Wednesday 05 April 2023

Wellington, New Zealand, April 4, 2023 – A study on the economic impact of Season One of the hit television series Sweet Tooth, produced by Warner Bros. Television for Netflix and filmed in New Zealand in Auckland, Waikato and Otago, has found that the show stimulated over NZ$66 million in contribution to New Zealand’s GDP in 2020. It also reported that expenditure made during the show’s production stimulated a total of 1,180 full time and part time jobs in New Zealand, with New Zealanders making up 95% of the crew and 80% of the cast.

The study, conducted by Oxford Economics and commissioned by the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and the Australia-New Zealand Screen Association (ANZSA), analyses the production’s total economic impacts in New Zealand in 2020, when the majority of the first season was filmed. The study, launched with a panel discussion at Parliament today, also considers the wider impact on the New Zealand economy during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the production boosted local economic activity at a time when most business activity was halted on a global scale.

Revealing the highlights of the report, Paul Muller – Chief Executive Office, ANZSA, said “The study found that for every dollar rebated through the NZSPG, almost $7 in economic activity had been generated, putting money in the hands of New Zealand screen workers and creating opportunities for small businesses throughout the country. This is a great case study to underscore how film and television productions act as a powerful economic driver.”

Spending with over 950 local suppliers of goods and services was the main expenditure item, making up 54% of the total expenditure at over NZ$25 million. The remaining 46% of spending measured at NZ$21 million and was spent on wages and salaries for local production crew and associated labour.

Leading the panel discussion of New Zealanders involved in the production, Cliff Curtis – Actor, Producer (Boy, Whale Rider, The Dark Horse, Muru, Once Were Warriors, Avatar: The Way of Water, The Meg, Chief of War, True Spirit, Fear the Walking Dead), said, “My career is a balance of large-scale international productions which supports my commitment to culturally significant works on local films. I’ve witnessed first-hand how New Zealand has built a film industry that punches above its weight on the global stage. It’s an industry all New Zealanders can be proud of because we are global leaders in this sector. We produce incredible quality, but let’s be clear, the Australian, Canadian, and U.K. economies all benefit from strong incentives. We need our own competitive incentive, not only because we are going to miss out on billions of active inbound investments but because we have an industry that offers the possibility of growth to the New Zealand economy.”

Mel Turner – Co-Exec. Producer (Sweet Tooth, Shannara Chronicles, Spartacus, Lord of the Rings), said, “Sweet Tooth is such a rewarding show to produce. The production is an amazing example of what New Zealand has to offer showcasing our stunning locations and our world-class talent. What you see on the screen is the product of a deep collaboration with the New Zealand landscape, skills, infrastructure, technology and pure creative passion.”

Robyn Grace – Director (Sweet Tooth, Mean Mums, Korero Mai), said, “Sweet Tooth gave me the opportunity to take the important career step from first assistant director to director. It was a real break for me to see the show succeed and have my work find a global audience. I benefited from working with industry professionals at the top of their game and feel like this experience will allow me to contribute more to local productions and to the New Zealand film and television industry at large.”

Dave Garbett – Director of Photography (Sweet Tooth, The Bad Seed, Ash vs Evil Dead, Spartacus), said, “I’m always excited when a project comes along that really challenges me as a cinematographer, and Sweet Tooth provided a big canvas to try some new ideas. The show gave us the opportunity to invest in a production set that utilises LED panels, a physical set and other digital elements to create a realistic, immersive experience for the audience. This is cutting edge technology that we will now be able to use on local films and TV shows, and ensures that our camera teams can compete with the best in the world.”

Amanda Neale – Costume Designer (Sweet Tooth, What We Do in the Shadows, Boy, Pete’s Dragon, The Meg and Wellington Paranormal Unit), said, “Designing costumes for the unique characters you meet on Sweet Tooth was an exciting and creative challenge. The most rewarding part was collaborating with Jim Mickle and the production's HODs to find the tone for the show (during a global pandemic) which I think forged a new visual language for the Apocalyptic and Dystopian genre. Creating such a vast range of authentic characters demanded we assemble a large team of artists and craftspeople. This incredible team and their diverse skillset further showcases the talent available in New Zealand’s television and film industry. These international projects nurture our talented creators and provide creative challenges and regular employment domestically.

Nick Bassett – Production Designer (Sweet Tooth, Evil Dead Rise, Guns Akimbo, Ash vs Evil Dead), said, “For Sweet Tooth, we were given the licence to create a convincing post-apocalyptic world that would seduce the audience and invite them on the journey. It was an incredible challenge and opportunity to show the world what New Zealand Art Departments can achieve when given the resources. Our crew developed specialised skills and valuable techniques that will give them a foot up in their careers, and of course all those skills are then available for our domestic films and TV shows.”

The key findings from Oxford Economics Economic Impacts of Sweet Tooth Season One in New Zealand report include:

- The NZSPG contributed $9.6 million – for every $1 invested, almost $7 in economic activity was generated.
- Sweet Tooth Season One resulted in direct spending of $46 million across NZ.
- 54% was spent on local goods and services ­– supporting 950 NZ businesses.
- 46% was spent on wages and salaries, creating 800 direct jobs.
- In total the production generated a $66 million contribution to New Zealand’s GDP, and stimulated a total of 1,180 jobs across NZ in 2020.
- That activity spread all the way across NZ and across a broad range of industries.