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By Frederica Elbourne

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, August 26) - For every dollar spent on the production of the film "Anaconda II" in Fiji, $2.81 (US$1.5) of new economic activity resulted, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase said.

Speaking at the reception for the film, Anaconda - The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, he said 728 full-time jobs were created during the making of the movie in Navua last year with total costs nearing $60million (US$33.8 million) - a large portion of which was spent in Fiji.

The film project hired 329 locals as production crew while the services of 356 local businesses were secured at that time, he said. "Anacondas brought all of them an unexpected windfall. Fifty locations were used in the film and in each case the landowners too saw financial gain," Qarase said on Wednesday night.

The figures do not take into account substantial increases in business retail outlets and other service suppliers, which met the needs of the film cast and crew during the duration of the project, he said.

"As we expand on our film making infrastructure we expect to retain an even bigger slice of these film making budgets," said Qarase. He said the work of the Fiji Audio Visual Commission was paying dividends in the birth of a substantial new industry.

"Sony Pictures felt the production quality of Anacondas was equal to movies costing several millions more," Qarase said. But the shortage of customers in the piracy industry was doubtful, he said, and added that the strengthening of the intellectual property rights was needed.

"Government intends to put a stop to piracy and for those doing business with them, take heed, and do the right thing," Qarase said. In anticipation of another Anacondas production in Fiji, Qarase said the monster snakes may terrify some of the characters they squeeze up to in the film but "we don’t mind their embrace at all."

During a light-hearted moment, he said he wanted to seek out the waterfall in Navua, which featured in the movie and added that in the interest of tourism it was best to keep quiet about the location the movie was shot at. "In Fiji, if we want to attract someone’s attention in a big crowd, we might sometimes use the rather impolite technique of hissing at them, like a snake. "But don’t do so here as some of us are still recovering from the tarrying spectacle of a gigantic Anaconda," Qarase said.

August 27, 2004

FijiSUN: http://www.sun.com.fj/

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