South has something for Conan

Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will be back as fantasy warrior Conan the Barbarian. Sir Peter Jackson's film-making facilities in Wellington were mentioned by the former ''Governator''. Photo by 20th Century FOX in arhccive.
Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will be back as fantasy warrior Conan the Barbarian. Sir Peter Jackson's film-making facilities in Wellington were mentioned by the former ''Governator''. Photo by 20th Century FOX in arhccive.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Universal Studios are reportedly considering Peter Jackson's Wellington film studio for use on the sequel to Conan the Barbarian. James Beech opines about the benefits of them coming further south.

Arnold Schwarzenegger should consider Queenstown and the south of New Zealand as locations for his sequel to Conan the Barbarian if plans to use Peter Jackson's film studio in Wellington come to pass.

The veteran action movie star told Ain't It Cool News earlier this month a ''quality'' sequel to his 1982 fantasy adventure hit, with him playing an older Conan, had the financial support of Universal Studios after a decade of his lobbying.

''There's writing right now of a script and it could very well be that one of the places they're looking very closely right now is Jackson's studio in New Zealand,'' he said.

''There's all kinds of dialogue on that level''.

Schwarzenegger said the studio was ''rushing'' pre-production.

''They really want to get it done, so they want to start shooting sometime around the end of this year.''

Production companies have taken advantage of Queenstown's central position as a hub and flown in directly, rented offices, booked accommodation and set to work with travel possible in all directions.

The Wakatipu and the lower South Island are no strangers to fantasy films. The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the Chronicles of Narnia were shot, in part, in the area.

Narnia star Tilda Swinton, who played the White Witch, told the Sunday Star-Times: ''New Zealand is a mythic landscape. It has everything you can imagine.

''The sad thing about this film is that people who haven't been here will think it's all CGI (computer generated imagery), but those mountains, that landscape is not made up. It's all here.''

Film Otago Southland executive manager Kevin Jennings, of Queenstown, said he had not had any direct contact from anyone involved with the Schwarzenegger production.

''As with many other large international productions, we have a proven track record of delivering the goods, with our diverse locations, film friendly environment and our infrastructure,'' Mr Jennings said.

''Our variety of relatively untouched and dramatic landscapes are the ideal backgrounds for any story in any era.''