James Cameron is returning to New Zealand to work on his upcoming Avatar sequels – and apparently he loves the rural countryside so much that he’s decided to make it home.
The filmmaker spent an estimated $16 million to buy 2,500 acres of land located around Lake Pounui – a scenic plot with views of the Pacific Ocean, a giant freshwater lake and mountains in the distance. The new home away from home is where Cameron and his family plan to spend roughly half of the year – and arguably more in the foreseeable future as the first Avatar sequel has now been pushed back to 2015.
Cameron’s own real-life Pandora sounds pretty magnificent, but presents an interesting conundrum for New Zealanders. The director will bring jobs to the country that will bolster the economy, but there’s local concern that this is the first move in a wave of wealthy foreigners buying up local properties. Pounui citizens are already concerned that Cameron overpaid for this plot (which has reportedly been on the market since 2004) and that it will affect their own land taxes moving forward. On top of that, he’s already closed access to a hall on the land that was often used for wedding receptions. Cameron plans to build his workshop there. This says nothing of the archeological sites that could be hidden on the massive plot – something researchers would love to uncover. That could become significantly more challenging now.
Cameron is trying to say all the right things. He talks about perhaps building his own studio in the country, one to go along with Peter Jackson’s own place in Wellington. That means more jobs for locals. He’s also quick to point out that he isn’t there to compete with Jackson – that he’s simply there to make his films and because he loves the land.
It seems that the locals will have plenty of time to get to know their newest resident. With Avatar 2 already pushed back to 2015 and Avatar 3 unlikely for several years after that, it seems like Cameron will be spending a great deal of time on his massive new ranch.
[via The New York Times]