The Last Samurai has been recognised with two special Taranaki business awards.
Hollywood superstar Tom Cruise and his production company partner, Paula Wagner, are to be given the New Plymouth District Council Mayoral Award, while the movie’s location scout, Charlie Harrington, and production designer, Lily Kilvert, are to be presented the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Discovery Award.
The awards were announced at the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce Business Awards on Friday night.
While no one from The Last Samurai was at the awards, a video-taped thank you speech by Mr Harrington and Ms Kilvert – who were in New York at the time – was played at the ceremony.
The tape nearly did not make it to the ceremony, arriving just a few minutes before it began, because New Plymouth Airport had been shut because of fog.
In the interview, Mr Harrington and Ms Kilvert thanked Taranaki for its help and hospitality during the filming earlier this year and said how much they enjoyed their time in the region.
There was even a hint of further movies for Taranaki, when the pair promised that one day they would return.
Taranaki Chamber of Commerce chairman John Rae said it was decided to give business awards to The Last Samurai production staff, because they were instrumental in bringing millions of dollars into the region.
“We wanted to acknowledge them for their input. They will be awarded a commemorative, one-off, specially designed, ornamental plaque,” Mr Rae said.
The awards would be given to the recipients at either the premiere of The Last Samurai in New Zealand or Los Angeles, he said.
Roadshow, the distributors of the film, said yesterday no decisions had yet been made on the location of the New Zealand premiere, but it is likely to either be in Auckland or New Plymouth.
New Plymouth Mayor Peter Tennent said Cruise-Wagner Productions was a very deserving candidate for the Mayoral Award.
“If you want to look at a company that made a huge impact in Taranaki, it would be Cruise-Wagner Productions. It was the summer of the Samurai,” Mr Tennent said
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