The Wests Win Another Run

Three has renewed Westside for a fifth season and commissioned a mini-series about Jonah Lomu while TVNZ has greenlit two more Sunday Theatre telemovies.

South Pacific Pictures’ Outrageous Fortune spin-off will return for 10 more episodes next year after receiving up to nearly $7 million in funding from NZ On Air.

The deal makes the West family saga the longest-running NZ drama series after SPP’s Shortland Street.

The funding agency’s also committed up to nearly $5.5 million for Great Southern Television’s Jonah, The Untold Story, which will dramatise the rugby hero’s rise in two 90-minute episodes.

The tragic story of New Zealand’s worst fire disaster, the Ballentyne’s department store in Christchurch, will be dramatised in Ablaze.

Screentime NZ, which has been allocated up to nearly $3 million for the project, describes it as “an ambitious historical drama focused on an event that forever changed the way we manage fire prevention and our fire service”.

Another 90-minute drama, Runaway Millionaires, has hit the funding jackpot with up to  nearly $2.8 million in NZOA support.

From Fearless Productions, it will dramatise what happened when Kara Hurring and Leo Gao ran off with $10 million that was accidentally deposited into their bank account.

“Local drama continues to engage local audiences because we love to see our own stories, told in our own voice,” NZ On Air CEO Jane Wrightson said in a startement.

Our production companies are second to none at creating and delivering great stories.

In particular I congratulate the writers and producers in winning funding in a hotly contested environment where we had many very good proposals to choose from.

Each of these projects will also create a large number of job opportunities in the screen production sector over the coming year.

Viewers are responding to local dramas like Westside and Sunday Theatre, which ends this weekend with In Dark Places’ dramatisation of Teina Pora’s wrongful imprisonment.

The most popular of this year’s Sunday Theatres, horse-racing drama Kiwi, romped ahead of the competition — Godzilla and the network movie premiere of Warcraft — by winning its slot in all the core commercial demographics, including 5.3% of its target audience, 25-54 year-olds.

Last weekend’s Mistress, Mercy was outrated by the movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service, but was ratings kryptonite for Man of Steel.

Similarly, In a Flash lost to the free-to-air premiere of The Boss but finished ahead of Clash of the Titans in all the key demos except household shoppers with kids.

And Westside bounced back with a 25-54 average of 6.2% for its season premiere and won the 8.30 hour in all the core demos.

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