'Star Wars' prequels to follow suit

SYDNEY — Fox Studios Australia has announced that Paramount’s “Mission Impossible 2″ will begin a 20-week shoot in Sydney later this month.

Four of Fox’s six soundstages will be used to lense one-third of the film, which will also use as sites the city of Sydney and rural locations in the state of New South Wales.

Injecting A$70 million ($45 million) into the NSW economy, pic is the biggest thus far to shoot in the state.

The John Woo actioner will also differ from such other Sydney-lensed big-budget films as “Babe,” “Babe: Pig in the City,” “Dark City” and “The Matrix” in using Sydney as part of the storyline “rather than an unnamed American location,” according to NSW premier Bob Carr, who said the film will create 630 jobs and provide work for 30 local actors and 8,000 extras.

“The arrival of the film illustrates how large studios can cooperate and collaborate to achieve outcomes which benefit not only the parties concerned, but NSW as a whole,” said FSA topper Kim Williams.

That’s a point not lost on other locales. Melbourne is constructing studios for Paramount with a 2001 opening, while Queensland’s Pacific Film and Television Commission is seeking expressions of interest from companies to fund, develop, build, operate and utilize a film studio in Brisbane to augment the state’s existing Gold Coast Warner Roadshow Studios.

In October, pre-production will begin at Fox Studios on the first of the two “Star Wars” prequels skedded to shoot in Sydney.

Baz Luhrmann’s next film is also expected to shoot at Fox Studios. Unconfirmed press reports say Nicole Kidman is talking to Luhrmann about starring in his pic, alongside Ewan McGregor.

Woo meanwhile has been confirmed as a judge of the popular Tropfest short film competish on Sunday, alongside Cannes Film Fest selector Pierre Rissient, Oscar-nominated thesp Rachel Griffiths (“Hilary and Jackie”) and Ana Kokkinos.

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