The New Zealand Government Allows James Cameron to Film Avatar 2September 3, 2020
James Cameron and his crew of 55 members received special permission to fly to New Zealand to film Avatar 2 amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The move offended other individuals whose activities have stalled because of strict lockdown measures. Despite closing its international borders, the New Zealand government seemed to have bent its rules to allow Cameron’s crew to enter the country. Earlier March this year, New Zealand’s Premier, Jacinda Arden, ordered the closure of the nation’s border from international visitors to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Looming Economic Dawn
New Zealand’s strict measures have borne fruits. It is evident in the less than 2000 infection cases and less than 30 deaths compared to the massive infections and fatality rates experienced in Spain, Italy, France, and other countries. Recently, the government loosened some of the lockdown measures resulting in a gradual return to normalcy. New Zealand’s tourism sector, whose thriving massively depends on oversea tourists, has much suffered. The lockdown measures barring individuals from entering the country have also resulted in the separation of families and loved ones for several weeks. Businesses with workers overseas have also been unable to bring them home.
A Sense of Double Standards
The government’s decision to allow Cameron and his team of 55 members to enter the country for filming did not go well with many New Zealanders. Many took to social media platforms to express their discontent over what some termed as double standards. They lamented why the government could bar its people from entering the country, only to allow a crew to come to shoot a movie. Businesses, especially the dairy industry sector, were upset because the government declined to permit them to bring their staff home only to allow the Avatar crew to fly into the country. For example, one of the dairy farmers, Tom Hargreaves, lamented how his assistant was stuck in Uruguay because of the lockdown measures. She had flown to Uruguay to visit her family but could not fly back to New Zealand.
In an interview, June Ranson, who chairs New Zealand’s Migration and Investment Association, expressed her surprise over the exemption of Avatar crew from the lockdown rules. She blamed the government for using double standards in its effort to implement the Covid-19 safety measures. Ranson faulted the minister for focusing on projects that would least benefit the people of New Zealand and the economy. According to Ranson, the people needed individuals who would play a role in rebuilding the country’s hard-hit economy. Cameron’s producer Jon Landau took to the Instagram posting a picture after the crew arrived at Wellington airport. Everybody in the crew was wearing a plastic face shield and a mask. The government had directed Cameron and his team to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine before commencing their filming.
Adherence to Strict Health Measures
Phil Twyford, the economic development minister of New Zealand, made a statement following Avatar crew’s arrival jetting in at Wellington. He noted that 56 crew film members from Los Angeles had landed in the country for an essential activity. He added that the team would stay in central Wellington’s QT Hotel for a 2-week self-quarantine. The Management of QT Hotel, while speaking to the Dominion Post, assured the public that it had isolated the crew from other guests.
Avatar 2 is the first influential blockbuster to resume filming since the global shutdown of filming because of the Covid-19 pandemic. In a move to defend the government’s decision to allow Cameron’s crew into the country, Twyford said that the essential staff had to meet strict criteria before flying into the country. He added that residents will not take part in the filming and that the project could bring crucial economic benefits to the country.
James Cameron’s team has since received global applause for their determination to keep the entertainment industry thriving amid the Covid-19. Cameron said that the team would begin filming the much-awaited Avatar 2 immediately they finish their mandatory quarantine.