×

Government Subsidies Help Lure Film Productions to Australia

Gov coin continues to be the wizardy behind the Oz film industry

The recent $21 million payment to keep “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” afloat Down Under is clear evidence of a country employing creative means to keeps its appeal alive to big overseas productions.

Oz’s economy may be great and powerful, but that has long been the (flying) monkey on the back of a local

film industry having a tough time attracting runaways. To make sure the rest of the world doesn’t forget that this far-flung isle has a wealth of local talent and abundance of diverse locations, the industry has managed to get at least one blockbuster a year to make the trip, thanks to generous one-off government subsidies that are similar to those offered in New Zealand to The Hobbit.

The latest recipient of the Oz government’s largesse is the Disney tentpole “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” toplining Brad Pitt, that got a one-off payment of $A21.6 million ($20.7 million) in April instead of just the Location Offset, which is set at 16.5% of a foreign film’s qualifying spend.

While the value of giving government coin to Hollywood has been debated Down Under, Ausfilm topper Debra Richards harbors no doubt that it’s an important incentive for the industry.

Popular on Variety

“Encouraging international offshore production keeps Australia and the local industry competitive,” says Richards. “A major production such as ‘20,000 Leagues’ means jobs, continuity of work, skills and training, and innovation and investment back into the local industry.”

The one-off payment is similar to the $13.5 million given last year to “The Wolverine” to have it film in and around Sydney, and forms part of the Creative Australia policy to boost local arts and international pics.

“It is possible,” says Richards says of seeing the return of the one-off system. “The federal government announced an additional ($20.7 million) location incentive in the recent national cultural policy, Creative Australia, to keep Australia competitive for international production — on top of ‘The Wolverine’ and ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ payments — so there is an opportunity to access the additional incentive on top of the current Location Offset.”

These incentives make Oz appealing again in a tough market, but a permanent hike in the Location Offset would signal more security and has been alluded to in Creative Australia should the dollar remain high.

Not that all is lost, since a few local co-prods have also attracted some big name talent in the past year.

Michael and Peter Spierig (“Daybreakers”) are in pre-production in Victoria on Predestination, a sci-fi based on a short story by Robert A. Heinlein (“Starship Troopers”) and starring Ethan Hawke. Ewan McGregor is filming crime-thriller “Son of a Gun” in Western Australia. And the long-awaited, Mel Gibson-free fourth installment in George Miller’s Mad Max series is in post-production.

One-off government payments are making sure that at least some big U.S. productions head to Oz, but some more policy wizardry may be needed should the high dollar continue.

More Film

  • Ennio The Maestro

    Wong Kar-wai’s Block 2 to Sell Giuseppe Tornatore’s ‘Ennio: The Maestro’

    Block 2 Distribution, the sales arm of Wong Kar-wai’s Jet Tone Films will handle international rights to “Ennio: The Maestro.” The film is an upcoming documentary about legendary film musician Ennio Morricone, written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore. Morricone, who is 91, has more than 500 movie credits to this name including scores for Sergio [...]

  • José

    'José': Film Review

    It has been a year and a half since director Li Cheng’s “José” won the Venice Film Festival’s Queer Lion. It would be a shame to let the lag time diminish expectations. After a LGBTQ fest run, the Spanish-language drama — about a young gay man in Guatemala — has opened theatrically and continues to [...]

  • The Cost of Silence

    'The Cost of Silence': Film Review

    A decade has passed since 2010’s Deepwater Horizon tragedy, history’s most catastrophic oil drilling accident that occurred when a BP-operated pipe exploded, leaking millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. There was no successful intervention for months, and time hasn’t healed all wounds. On the contrary, it opened new, irreversible ones as [...]

  • Nardjes A.

    ‘Invisible Life’s’ Karim Ainouz Drops Trailer for 'Nardjes A.’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    On Feb. 14 last year, Karim Aïnouz arrived in Algeria to trace via the story of his parents the Algerian Revolution which happened 60 years ago – its 1954-62 War of Independence from France. The uprising he very quickly started to shoot, however, was one happening right then, the Revolution of Smiles, whose first street [...]

  • Call of the Wild

    Harrison Ford in 'The Call of the Wild': Film Review

    Dogs, in their rambunctious domesticated way, can lead us overly civilized humans a step or two closer to the natural world. So it’s only fitting that the best dog movies have saluted that unruly canine spirit without a lot of artificial flavoring. Hollywood’s classic dog tales, like “Old Yeller” (1957) or “Lassie Come Home” (1943), [...]

  • Adventures of a Mathematician

    Indie Sales Unveils Trailer For 'Adventures of a Mathematician' (EXCLUSIVE)

    In the run up to Berlin’s European Film Market, Indie Sales has unveiled the trailer for Thor Klein’s “Adventures of a Mathematician” which had its world premiere in Palm Springs. The film tells the inspiring true story of a Polish-Jewish mathematician who got a fellowship at Harvard and went on to join the prestigious Manhattan [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content