Melbourne studio cost rises

Extra facilities added to meet industry response

SYDNEY — The cost of Melbourne’s first purpose-built film and TV studio complex has escalated to about $A200 million ($120 million) from the initial $66 million budget.

But the owners say the extra expense is justified by demand for the studios and offices, and securing the finance isn’t a problem.

“There has not been a blow out in constructions costs,” Sino Guzzardi, executive chairman of Central City Studios Holdings, tells Variety.

“What has occurred is that we are adding extra facilities and buildings to the commercial cluster to meet the positive response from the industry.”

Construction on five of the six soundstages began in December and the studio is due to open in March 2004. Work on the first two office towers will begin within three months and will be completed in 16-18 months.

Recognizing that the city badly needs soundstages to compete with the Fox Studios in Sydney and the Warner Roadshow Studios in Queensland, the Victorian government is providing a low interest loan of $24 million towards the studios.

The balance is being raised internally, says Guzzardi, who owns Movielink, a firm which supplies films to Australian hotels and hospitals.

“The precinct is a much needed one,” he says, adding that he hopes to reveal in a few weeks the first productions that will use the facility and companies that will occupy the commercial cluster.

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