Paramount opens Australian office

Studio reaches out to local partners

SYDNEY — Paramount Pictures Australia officially threw open its doors this week with a mandate that’s been warmly welcomed by the Aussie industry.

In addition to releasing several dozen films each year, the new film distribution office says it is seeking to invest in Australian films with the aim of taking them to worldwide audiences.

Par has had only limited contact with Australian filmmakers in the past: The studio shot “Mission: Impossible II” Down Under in 1999, and a few years earlier, it undertook an arm’s-length investment in a small number of Aussie films through its distribution partnership with Universal, United Intl. Pictures.

The culture shift in Los Angeles following Brad Grey’s arrival that’s seen the studio embrace co-ventures is now hitting the territories.

Mike Selwyn, Paramount Pictures Australia topper, tells Variety “the Australian industry has always punched under its weight. We could be making more larger-scale Australian films to have real currency on the world scale.”

The combination of local talent and the Paramount brand may help us create structures that are more interesting to local investors, Selwyn says.

Midyear, the company will announce precisely how it will enter the local industry. For now, it is in talks with myriad interest groups and, like the rest of the Oz biz, awaiting the outcome of the federal film funding review currently under way.

Paramount Australia has retained the office and personnel of the former UIP, while veteran distributor Mike Baard will launch Universal Pictures Australia in July.

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