You could ask the question – is anyone left in LA? It doesn’t seem like it because the list of Hollywood A-listers packing their bags and heading to Australia just keeps getting longer. We’ve just heard Jennifer Lawrence will be here next month to shoot a reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise – and both Julia Roberts and Sean Penn will be here to shoot a new political thriller for television called Gaslit.
Above we have a trailer for the previous Fantastic Four from 2005. Lawrence is going to star in a reboot of this series. We already have Chris Pratt, Christian Bale and Natalie Portman here in Sydney, filming the latest in the Thor franchise in Centennial Park – along with our own Chris Hemsworth.
Then there’s Irish actor, Colin Farrell who’s heading our way to shoot a separate project and Scott Eastwood – son of legend, Clint Eastwood – will be here as well to work on another project.
What’s so attractive about shooting movies in Australia?
So why are all of these Hollywood stars – and top executives along with them – coming to Sydney? We already have Zac Efron here and he’s been here for nearly a year, the last few months filming a Stan original film called Gold.
The reason these Hollywood A-listers are coming out in droves boils down to two factors and we have mentioned these in another story about Nicole Kidman funding the filming shoot of Liane Moriarty’s latest book – see here.
These factors are firstly, we don’t have many restrictions due to COVID any more and secondly, halfway through last year, our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, offered a $400 million location incentive to the film industry.
This incentive is to be spread out over three years and at the time, the government argued the investment was estimated to attract around $3 billion in foreign spending and to create 8,000 jobs a year. This is great news if you’re planning to use tech skills to work in the film industry.
US movie industry needs to keep shooting
Well it looks like it’s working so far. But to get the full picture, it’s important to realise the movie industry was hit incredibly hard by COVID last year. North America – the home of Hollywood – saw the lowest number of cinema tickets sold per capita in at least 40 years, if not a century, in 2020.
As the pandemic’s worsened in the US, it’s become even more difficult for the industry. As well as not being able to screen movies – now it’s incredibly difficult to shoot them. The CEO of Ausfilm, Kate Marks, told a parliamentary committee last month: “The international spotlight is firmly on Australia… the world is now looking at [Australia] as a destination for producing high-quality international screen content.”
Ausfilm, which has offices in Australia and the US, has received a huge increase in inquiries related to film projects late last year – an increase of 300 per cent on the same period in 2019. It’s been quoted the inquiries added up to a total of $2.1 billion.
These projects include Escape From Spiderhead, a Netflix sci-film film starring Chris Hemsworth. This film is going to be shot in Queensland and will bring an estimated $47 million into the local economy and it will hire 360 cast and crew members, according to the Queensland government.
Graeme Mason, the head of Screen Australia, was quoted as saying while the productions might be foreign, there will be benefits for local workers.
“Whether they be the set dresser or the grip, or whatever they are, on the whole they’re Australians, and this is providing incredible employment and skills for those people.”
Australia will still be a popular place for shooting after the pandemic
It’s also been said Australia’s popularity as a shooting destination won’t lessen too much, even when the effects of the pandemic diminish. Ausfilm’s Dr Nick Herd said there is a shortage of production space worldwide and Australia has high-quality facilities, including the Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast, where Baz Luhrmann is completing the filming of his Elvis movie which Tom Hanks worked on when he was here.
Disney Studios now owns Fox Studios in Sydney’s Moore Park
An example of the commitment major film studios are making to Australia as the new ‘home’ of film is the fact Disney Studios bought 20th Century Studios – or what we commonly knew as Fox Studios in Sydney’s Moore Park. This was back in March of 2019 but it’s been serving Disney well as it’s begun to film most of its Marvel blockbusters in these studios since halfway through last year.
It’s been reported the head of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, is set to relocate here in Sydney indefinitely as the studio prepares to base its film making operations in Sydney for at least the next few years.
Previously, Marvel’s headquarters were based in Atlanta in the US. But since the COVID pandemic hit, these production facilities have been closed. Most of the projects Marvel is working on our now set up to be shot here at the Disney Studios in Moore Park, Sydney. The good news is this means Marvel continues to make films and here in Australia, we benefit at the same time.
For more from Women Love Tech on the Hollywood stars moving to Australia, read this story about Nicole Kidman filming here and this story about Chris Hemsworth and Matt Damon filming the next Thor here.