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Joint plan for Movie Museum and Convention Centre abandoned

Plans for a proposed Movie Museum as part of a Convention Centre complex in Cable Street have been abandoned.

Artist impression of the proposed Convention Centre and Movie Museum

The Wellington City Council and The Movie Museum Limited announced yesterday that a joint project for a Council Convention Centre and TMML Movie Museum that had been proposed for Cable Street would be abandoned by mutual agreement.

Both the Council and TMML remain optimistic for the future of their respective projects.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester says that the decision came after a series of meetings and correspondence between the two organisations. The Mayor confirms that the two sides had given the idea of a joint project the best possible shot, but that it had become apparent that Wellingtonians would be better served with the Movie Museum and the Convention Centre as two separate assets.

TMML is the company established by filmmakers Sir Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Sir Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger to develop and operate a museum attraction in Wellington that was touted as “a film-based visitor experience unrivalled anywhere else in the southern hemisphere, and possibly the world”.

It would have showcased the work of their companies and others in the Wellington film industry over the past 25 years, and incorporated the fimmakers’ own collections.

A TMML statement said that “despite the best efforts of all parties, the economics of the Cable Street location proved to be a challenge for the movie museum.

“We remain committed to the creation of a Movie Museum in Wellington and will now be considering other options.”

The Mayor  said that he is pleased that Sir Peter and Sir Richard are committed to a movie museum for Wellington and that he looks forward to their vision being realised.

The initial $134 million budget for the joint project quickly blew out, with the Council agreeing in 2016 to spend $150 million conditional upon getting final go-ahead from TMML.

But the project had looked doubtful since last December, when Jackson sent a letter to the Council raising concerns about the deal.

The agreement would have seen the Council pay for the new building, with TMML funding the museum’s fit-out.

The Wellington City Council now plans to move forward with the Convention Centre, with the Mayor saying that work would begin in 2019.

“This will be a welcome development for Wellington’s business, hospitality and accommodation sectors as it will mean the city will be equipped to host larger conferences and conventions.”

The development will also include a 1500 square metre exhibition space that would have housed the Movie Museum.

The Council is in talks with Te Papa about a partnership for the operation of the exhibition space, which could accommodate large, internationally significant exhibitions, potentially drawing in visitors from around Wellington, New Zealand and internationally.

“Exhibition spaces around the world are undergoing a renaissance, particularly with the fusion of art and technology,” the Mayor says.

Geraint Martin, Chief Executive of Te Papa, says the museum is excited to work in tandem with the Council, given Te Papa’s experience, international standing and the proximity of the proposed site and the synergies between the two organisations.

“We are looking forward to working with the Council to realise this opportunity for Wellington,” he said.

The Council expects to lodge the resource consent for the Convention Centre and exhibition space within the coming months.