As much as I love Sydney, there’s quite a few things that piss me off as well about my hometown. Next-to-no late night shopping or dining, one of the least-friendly bar scenes of any first-world city I’ve ever experienced, and being behind the U.S. by months (in some cases years) in regards to TV shows, films, gadgets and cars – and even then paying twice as much for the same product.
More pertinent though is the unnecessary arrogance and stubborness of the local film industry bodies and their Government regulators. As the world heads toward economic recession, a few key bureaucrats seem to prefer sticking their heads in the sand rather than actually trying to diversify and/or compete on an international level – something the actual workers on the sound stages and in the FX & technical labs have been successfuly doing for many years.
A few years ago that close-minded cowardice saw two young Aussie filmmakers have to go to the U.S. to get their little indie film “Saw” made – and in the process losing out on one of the most profitable (albeit not particularly prestigious) film franchises in recent history. Today came another blow as the George Miller-directed $200 million “Justice League” movie looks like it will have to be shot overseas (probably Canada or Eastern Europe) after it was refused the Federal Government’s new film production rebate.
Under the new system, films deemed “significantly Australian” are eligible for a 40% rebate. At present ‘League’ is under a 15% rebate deal – but with the American dollar falling so quickly on the market, the Australian dollar has become so strong that a 15% rebate is worth practically nothing. Because almost all of the cast and crew involved in the film’s making are Australian, the production hoped to get that 40% rebate – until it was turned down this week.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the decision over the project – which will now be entitled “Justice League Mortal” – has made Miller understandably upset – “A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Australian film industry is being frittered away because of very lazy thinking. If that’s going to be the final decision, they’re throwing away hundreds of millions of dollars of investment that the rest of the world is competing for and, much more significantly, highly skilled creative jobs.”
Opponents have lobbied against the film’s eligibility since its halt of production in January, claiming that it should not be available for big-budget movies not developed by Australian filmmakers from inception. Miller (and I very much support him on this) says that the industry needs movie franchises, even if they were not identifiably Australian, to boost production, improve skills and draw talent back from overseas – “New Zealand built up their franchises through Hercules and Xena into Lord of the Rings. Now they’re doing three Tintin films, two more Hobbit films and Halo. They’ve got work for 15 years in that country” he says.
In other ‘League’ news, “Heroes” star Stephen Tobolowsky is rumored to be playing Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler.