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Australia denies killing ‘Justice League’

Creative issues, not tax breaks, pulled the plug

The Oz government is looking for some justice.

Warner Bros. last week cited tax break complications as one reason for putting a hold on the Down Under shoot of “Justice League.” But Oz officials say that’s not the case, mate.

“We understand the postponement of filming is absolutely confined to creative issues and especially to delays in refining the script due to the writers’ strike,” says a spokeswoman for arts minister Peter Garrett.

Warner’s announcement came at an embarrassing time for the Oz government: It was the first day of Oz’s weeklong bicoastal G’day USA trade and tourism showcase, and the decision could have been seen as a vote of no confidence in Oz’s Labor government, elected in November.

Oz incentives were overhauled in the dying days of the former coalition government, giving domestic pics a 40% rebate on all Aussie expenditures, 20% for television skeins and 15% for foreign shoots. Pics seeking the uncapped 40% refund need to meet specific criteria to be deemed Aussie, and this is where “Justice League” appears to have failed to qualify, despite the studio having inked helmer George Miller in September and some Aussie thesps such as model Megan Gale.

The former coalition government adopted a broad approach that all production was essentially a boon for locals, but senior figures in the Australian industry were not sure a film like “Justice League” (set in the U.S.) would pass as Australian with the new government.

In 2001, WB was stung when the Australian Taxation Office tightened control of 10B fundraising, leaving vast numbers of film investors on the hook for unexpected tax bills.

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