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Weta Workshop partners with New Zealand Story

Bringing the power of the New Zealand brand to the booming collectibles market, Wētā Workshop has joined New Zealand Story’s FernMark Licence Programme – a government-backed accreditation designed to help New Zealand businesses stand out in global markets.

The partnership comes after a rapid rise in the global collectibles market, which was estimated at USD $462 billion in 2023 and is anticipated to grow substantially in the next ten years.1

Wētā Workshop has experienced 80 percent growth in demand for its collectibles ranges since 2020 and intends to pursue further growth opportunities to leverage the market in 2024.

David Wilks, General Manager, Wētā Workshop, says the global boom comes down to the increasing accessibility of online platforms, enhanced authenticity and provenance tracking, and the investment potential – which is driven by scarcity and rarity.

“Wētā Workshop started its collectibles business 25 years ago, off the back of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as a way to leverage our skilled sculptors and extend our work beyond the screen. It is now a full-time business with a dedicated team of 40 people, 11 licensed properties and 12 collectibles lines,” says Wilks.

In 2023, Wētā Workshop signed with Games Workshop to create a new line of Warhammer collectibles, which it anticipates will be nearly as popular as its Middle-earth range. The FernMark will start appearing on collectibles and across the wider business.

Richard Taylor, Wētā Workshop Co-Founder and Creative Director, says they specialise in high-end collectibles.

“Our focus is on producing very limited runs of between 500 and 5000 pieces that are sold internationally. Once they sell out, we destroy the original mould, which gives them finite saleability.

“Our collectibles provide an opportunity for owners to permanently reconnect to the characters that they love. For our team, it keeps us connected to the tail of projects long after our involvement at the production level. They create a memory-evoking moment back to special cinematic experiences.

“Having the status of the FernMark, which endorses and embellishes the relevance and commercial standing of what we make, is very important and is something we are incredibly proud to be a part of,” says Taylor.

David Downs, CEO New Zealand Story, says he is thrilled to see Wētā Workshop join the FernMark Programme.

“It is a business that is known for its creativity, its innovation and its challenging of the norms. That is why it is often heroed as one of the leaders in New Zealand’s creative-tech space – it is sophisticated and complex business, but absolutely creative at its heart.

1 Research by Market Decipher, 2023

“The value of New Zealand’s arts and creative sector is not widely appreciated. It contributed $14.9 billion to New Zealand’s GDP in the year to March 2022, which is 4.2% of our total economy.2 Wētā Workshop is a great example of how to increase the value of New Zealand’s exports, not just volume.

“We are fortunate that New Zealand has built a strong reputation for our ingenuity, as well as our care for

people and place, which makes us a trusted market. That is a real opportunity when it comes to the growing

overlap between the tech and creative sectors.

“More and more, people are looking at New Zealand for our creativity and innovation. Wētā Workshop has

been part of New Zealand’s story for not just making films, but for leading their industry, globally – from

New Zealand,” Downs says.

Sir Richard says the FernMark will provide Wētā Workshop with the opportunity to align with a mark of authenticity that is recognised around the world.

“Wētā Workshop’s hope is to leave a creative legacy for all New Zealanders to enjoy and be proud of. Our partnership with New Zealand Story supports this vision and will allow us to collaborate with other fabulous local exporters to build New Zealand’s profile as a country of origin for innovation and creativity,” he says.

 

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