Hollywood eyeing Australia for film bonanza

HOLLYWOOD movie giants are eyeing off Australia as a COVID-safe location to film after the country's so-far ­successful efforts to tackle the disease, giving it a major ­opportunity to kickstart the hibernating industry once ­restrictions are lifted.

But a cash injection and an almost doubling of tax offsets for production companies are needed to secure the opportunities, according to Aussie production company Village Roadshows.

The Federal Government is in early stages of developing plans to restart the Aussie ­entertainment industry, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in talks with industry figures over the weekend.

It comes as the Morrison Government is expected to launch a new home and renovation grant scheme.

 

 

Film production is seeking help to restart after the COVID-19 shutdown. Camera operator Miranda Porter on the set of Mako Island of secrets at Village Roadshow studios. Picture: John Gass
Film production is seeking help to restart after the COVID-19 shutdown. Camera operator Miranda Porter on the set of Mako Island of secrets at Village Roadshow studios. Picture: John Gass

 

It is understood the PM is keen to get the film industry, which employs about 3000 people in Queensland, up and running again and that the Government is investigating ways to help kickstart it.

Australia is in the front row to get US and Hollywood productions, given its advanced state in combating the virus.

Queensland has a strong history of securing top Hollywood films, including Thor: ­Ragnarok, Kong: Skull Island and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

But the industry says the ­location offset needs to be increased to 30 per cent, from 16.5 per cent, to help attract production back again.

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been talking with the film and entertainment industry about what is needed for them to restart. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been talking with the film and entertainment industry about what is needed for them to restart. Picture: AAP Image/Darren England

 

Mr Morrison said he had spoken with entertainment ­industry representatives and indicated that some form of stimulus was in the works.

"We're looking into the film industry and we want to ensure that we're getting those sectors of the economy moving again as soon as they can."

Village Roadshow chief executive Clark Kirby said it was critical the Government increased the location tax offset from 16.5 per cent to 30 per cent to ensure that when international productions were able to restart Australia would be competitive in securing the work.

"US clients acknowledge and appreciate how advanced Australia is in tackling the health crisis as a result of the swift action taken by Government," he said. "This provides us all with an opportunity to position Australia as the safe and secure place to invest and do business.''

Mr Kirby said there was a "backlog of content" waiting in the wings to be produced, as well as financial resources ready to "immediately invest" in the right conditions.

"International film and television production, therefore, could play a vital role in Australia's recovery," he said.

A spokesman for Arts Minister Paul Fletcher confirmed work was under way on a package for the entertainment, screen and arts sector.

"Many practical suggestions have been made by sector leaders," he said.

"When you are putting on a new festival or a new production, you need to invest substantial capital upfront - so a shortage of capital will make it hard to get things started again. So we are looking closely at these sorts of hurdles the industry faces."

Originally published as Hollywood eyeing us for film bonanza