Oz studios banking on more biz

Queensland commission lending $4.1 mil to project

SYDNEY — The Warner Roadshow Movie World Studios in Queensland is expanding, adding two soundstages to its six, plus two suites of production offices and two construction workshops.

The Queensland government’s Pacific Film and Television Commission is lending $A8 million ($4.1 million) to the project. Work will start immediately and is due to be completed in August.

Economic boost

Deal was announced in Los Angeles Tuesday by Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, who is leading an 11-day trade mission to the U.S. The government estimates that Warner Roadshow studios have injected $320 million into the state’s economy since 1991 and that this latest expansion will create 2,500 jobs.

Studios president Michael Lake told Daily Variety the federal government’s new 12.5% tax rebate for big-budget productions lensed Down Under was a catalyst for the decision to extend the lot.

‘Tremendous opportunities’

“There will be tremendous opportunities over the next five years,” Lake said, praising the concession as much more effective and clear-cut than the tax writeoff that local investors used to get on international films shot in Oz; the tax scheme was disallowed by the government in the cases of “Moulin Rouge” and “Red Planet.”

“The Matrix” sequels shooting in Sydney, Warner Bros.’ “Scooby-Doo” (filmed in Queensland last year) and WB/Village Roadshow Pictures’ “Ghost Ship” (under way at the Warner Roadshow lot) are all eligible for the rebate, which is backdated to Sept. 4.

Lake is finding more U.S. producers have been encouraged to do post in Australia to help their projects qualify for the rebate. As examples he cited Disney’s “Inspector Gadget” sequel, which was completed here, and “Ghost Ship,” whose visual f/x are being created in Queensland.

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