10 Blockbuster Movies You Didn't Know Were Made in Wellington© 20th Century Fox
10 Blockbuster Movies You Didn't Know Were Made in Wellington

10 Blockbuster Movies You Didn’t Know Were Made in Wellington

© 20th Century Fox

Wellington Movies that Hit the Big Time

Ok, so you all know a certain movie franchise that was filmed in New Zealand. But really? More movies were made in New Zealand?! Yes! Not only that, New Zealand’s capital city, Wellington, is dubbed “Wellywood” because it is considered the movie-making capital of New Zealand. Yes, there are quite a few Wellington movies and some that may surprise you.

Wellington is home to a number of movie studios involved in some of today’s biggest blockbusters: Weta, Stone Street Studios and Park Road Production being the most famous. There are even a few tourist experiences to learn more about Wellington’s movie contributions, such as behind-the-scenes tours of Weta, as well as various film location tours. However, before you delve into the movie industry of New Zealand, you might want to know what are the Wellington movies made here!

1. The Avengers

Yes, the Marvel series that has broken all sorts of Box Office records time and time again was actually partly made in Wellington, New Zealand! Weta Digital, a Wellington-based animation studio, created many battle scenes in The Avengers, did the design and creation of Thanos in The Avengers: Infinity War, and more. Since Weta was involved in the first Avengers movie, they have been involved in some way throughout almost all the Marvel movies since then. See here for more information on visiting the Weta Workshop.

Walt Disney Company / Marvel Entertainment© Walt Disney Company / Marvel Entertainment

2. Avatar

The movie that made us “Wow” at mainstream 3D cinema for the first time! The digital animation was the work of Wellington’s Weta Digital, taking us to the planet of Pandora with their incredible landscapes and fascinating indigenous people! (Remind you of somewhere). Learn more about the making of Avatar in our 5 New Zealand Features that Inspired Avatar.

BagoGames on Flickr© BagoGames on Flickr

3. King Kong

No, not the puppet King Kong from 1933, but the 2005 remake was the work of Wellington-based studios, Weta. This blockbuster about an oversized gorilla features Jack Black, Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody. New Zealander and Wellingtonian, Peter Jackson, directed the blockbuster.

Universal Pictures / Wingnut Films© Universal Pictures / Wingnut Films

4. Black Sheep

Contrary to popular belief, this movie is not about the sheep of New Zealand. Although the comedy horror movie about killer sheep was a New Zealand-made movie, it’s not really a reflection of the type of experience you’ll have here. We promise. The creature effects were created by the team of Weta in Wellington and the movie was filmed in the wider Wellington region, such as the Wairarapa.

NZ on Air, New Zealand Film Commission© NZ on Air, New Zealand Film Commission

5. Without a Paddle

Yep, that dumb yet hilarious movie starring Set Green, Mathew Lillard and Dax Shepherd getting stranded in the wilderness is basically an advertisement for New Zealand. Filming locations include Taupo, Waikato, Whanganui, Rotorua and, of course, Wellington!

Paramount Pictures© Paramount Pictures

6. The Lovely Bones

The supernatural drama, The Lovely Bones, was not only directed by, you guessed it, Peter Jackson, it was also partly filmed in Wellington’s Wairarapa district. The movie follows the story of a young girl watching her family from the afterlife as they try to figure out what happened to her.

Dream Motion Pictures / Film 4© Dream Motion Pictures / Film 4

7. The Legend of Zorro

The 2005 adventure about the famous sword-wielding eye mask-wearing vigilante was directed by two New Zealanders, Lloyd Phillips and Martin Campbell. On top of that, the movie starring no other than Antonia Banderas was partly created at Wellington’s Weta Workshop.

Columbia Pictures© Columbia Pictures

8. District 9

The 2009 science-fiction movie about aliens invading Earth was a co-production of New Zealand, the US and South Africa. Part of the blockbuster was created by Wellington’s Park Road Production, a film production company also involved in the making of The Adventures of Tintin, The Hobbit and The Last Samurai. And guess what? Peter Jackson produced the movie too.

TriStar Pictures© TriStar Pictures

9. Pete’s Dragon

The Disney blockbuster, Pete’s Dragon, was mostly made in Wellington by a combination of Weta, Stone Street Studios and using New Zealand as it’s prime filming location. As well as the live-action CGI action-adventure film being shot in the Bay of Plenty and Canterbury, there were plenty of Wellington filming locations too.

Disney© Disney

10. The Frighteners

The 1996 flick starring Michael J Fox was entirely shot in New Zealand. Most of the scenes in this classic horror-comedy were filmed in Wellington. It was one of the earliest hits of Peter Jackson and his wife, Frank Bannister.

Wingnut Films© Wingnut Films


Robin C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before calling New Zealand home. He has now spent over a decade in the New Zealand tourism industry, clocking in more than 600 activities across the country. He is passionate about sharing those experiences and advice on NZ Pocket Guide and its YouTube channel. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides.

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