The importance of “Runaway Productions” in Australian jobs

During the year 2000, runaway productions became popular in Australia. Overseas productions companies were bringing their films to be made here and this was all due to production incentives and subsidies and of course the exchange rate. At the time, our dollar was a lot lower and cheaper for American films to be made here. Australia is home to two large studio complexes owned by Hollywood majors. They are the Warner RoadShow Studios in Queensland and Fox Studios here in Sydney. There is also Dockland Studios in Melbourne but as it is not owned by Hollywood majors, the area has not seen a boom in Hollywood productions (Newman 2008, p.303). Australia began taking away business from Vancouver, which up until that point had provided the location for over 80% of Hollywood’s foreign-produced features since the 90’s (Burns & Eltham 2010, p.109). Local employment more than doubled, from 5,998 in 1994 to 15,195 in 2000 (Burns & Eltham 2010, p.110). During this time, films such as The Matrix (1999) and Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) were made. Also along with the excitement of Hollywood blockbusters being shot here, Burns and Eltham (2010) also state “the exchange rate remained attractive [for internationals], Australian crews benefited through employment and small business development. Tourism and related industries also experienced flow-on growth.” (p.110)

matrix5.jpg
The UTS building in The Matrix

This last sentence is what I really want to focus on. Even though lending our country to Hollywood productions may sound like a terrible idea for our local film industry, I think it has actually benefited it and more. Not only do I believe it has benefited the local crews and productions companies, it has projected a large amount of money into our economy, and at what loss to us is that? Hollywood is getting their movies made cheaper and we are getting a boosted industry and economy. In an article about the filming of Superman Returns (2005) in Australia by Geoff Boucher (2005) for the LA Times, he says:

“An abstract by the New South Wales Department of State Development reports that “Superman Returns” injected some $80 million into the local economy, created 800 local jobs and employed as many 10,000 people as it shot on 60 sets on nine stages over eight months. A crowing minister told the Sydney press in November that the movie will be “more powerful than a locomotive at the box office” but that it’s “already proven a winner for the Sydney area.”

In 2006 Australia saw a decline in these runaway productions due to trade picking up and the dollar increasing and therefore steering Hollywood to other nearby places like New Zealand (Burns & Eltham 2010). From this, we saw a decrease in employment from 16,427 to 13,844 in 2006-07 (Burns & Eltham 2010, p.110). While staying at a low for a while, recently I have heard a lot about Hollywood films being shot here again like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017) in Queensland, Angelina Jolie’s film Unbroken (2014) in Sydney and now Julie Bishop has announced that the new Alien film and Thor will be filmed here. The Turnbull government has offered Hollywood studios $47 million in grants to lure the blockbusters, which are expected to create about 3000 local jobs (Wroe & Knott 2015).

I think that this is a smart move from the Turnbull government as I believe bringing Hollywood blockbusters here will not dilute our Australian culture but only enhance the industry on developing more entertaining cinematic films with bigger budgets which will hopefully come from this “invasion” of Hollywood.

 

References:

Boucher, G 2005, Up, Up… And Away, Los Angeles Times, viewed 3rd Feb 16, http://articles.latimes.com/2005/dec/31/entertainment/et-superman31/2

Burns, A & Eltham, B 2010, ‘Boom and bust in Australian screen policy: 10BA, the Film Finance Corporation and Hollywood’s ‘race to the bottom’ ‘, Media International Australia, no. 136, pp. 103-118

Newman, D 2008, ‘Australia and New Zealand: Expats in Hollywood and Hollywood South’, in Paul McDonald and Janet Wasko (eds), The Contemporary Hollywood Film Industry, Blackwell, Oxford, pp. 295–305.

Wroe, D & Knott, M 2015, New Alien and Thor movies to be filmed in Australia, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 3rd Feb 16, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/new-alien-and-thor-movies-to-be-filmed-in-australia-20151022-gkfspv.html

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