SYDNEY – The New South Wales government last week announced approval of the first stage of 20th Century Fox’s A$121 million ($96 million) film and TV studio complex on the site of the Sydney Showground.

That entails the construction of six soundstages – four for feature films, two for TV. Building will begin after the final Royal Easter Show is staged there next year, and will be completed by early 1998, according to Fox Studios Australia chief exec Kim Williams.

Simultaneously, Williams unveiled development applications for the other two phases: buildings housing post-production services; and production offices; administration; and the public areas, which will include a studio tour, 12-screen cinema, restaurants and shops. The family entertainment areas, due to open in late 1998, will employ at least 440 full-time staff and generate revenue of at least $36 million annually, Williams said.

“These proposals will see the transformation of the site over the next two years into a dynamic cultural city,” he said. He added that he’s in “advanced negotiations” with companies that will provide sound and picture editing, sound recording and special effects. The government already has approved the studio venture’s master plan.

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