Director wants new rebate for Warner film

Aussie helmer George Miller has mounted a public campaign to pressure the Oz government and its screen finance mandarins to change their minds and let him tap the new rebate for “Justice League Mortal,” which would give his production company a 40% refund on qualifying below-the-line costs.

The director of “Happy Feet” is threatening to lense the WB-backed superhero blockbuster in New Zealand or Canada if the Film Finance Corp. Australia, which issues provisional certificates, does not award one to the project.

In mid-January, WB put “Justice League” into turnaround and let thesp options lapse because the script was not ready and negotiations with the FFC were not finalized.

A provisional certificate would guarantee eligibility for the rebate so long as the project then adhered to its production plan.

In radio and newspaper interviews Wednesday, Miller said: “We don’t know officially that we’ve been knocked back, but it’s not looking good. It’s taken too long to make a decision, and the film’s going overseas now, which is incredibly wasteful for the Australian film industry.”

The Oz industry is split about whether the rebate should fund all films made by Aussie filmmakers in Oz or only those that tell Australian stories and genuinely originated there.

“Justice League” was developed by Warner Bros. and originally titled “Justice League: America.”

The legislation is being interpreted in favor of the “Aussie story” model, but the FFC could not confirm this because it has a policy of not discussing individual projects.

“That shows how rigid the thinking is here in Australia; that’s working to a paradigm that’s 30 years old and brought down the Australian film industry,” Miller said.

He added the rebate is being interpreted subjectively. “That thinking dooms us to making small films that not even Australians want to see.

“I’m dancing as fast as I can with the studio to have them hang on here. We’re going to appeal (if the FFC doesn’t grant the certificate) because it’s not just ‘Justice League’ — we have other films with Australian directors.”

Miller wants to lense the pic in Sydney at his new joint-venture facility with Omnilab.

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