Australia hopes to lure Hollywood studios with virus success

SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia is hoping its success in dealing with the coronavirus will lure more big budget Hollywood productions Down Under, with the government announcing incentives worth hundreds of millions of dollars yesterday.

Promising “lights, camera, jobs”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled a AUD400 million boost in cash grants for film productions, a move he said had already piqued the interest of major studios.

“Jerry Bruckheimer’s outfit and Ron Howard’s outfit have already reached out to Australia on the basis of the announcement we have made today,” Morrison said.

The plan aims to generate 8,000 jobs a year over seven years after Australia recorded its highest unemployment rate in two decades last month. But Morrison pointed instead to the return of more than 200,000 jobs as a sign Australia was charting a path through the pandemic.

The announcement mirrors a similar push in New Zealand where the crew filming the Avatar sequel was granted special exemptions from virus rules to enter the country.

Australia has long chased Hollywood productions by offering tax breaks and in recent years hosted several blockbusters including several Marvel movies, a Pirates of the Caribbean film and currently Baz Lurhmann’s Elvis biopic.