August 18, 2014 - 16:39 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Disney is eyeing a production date of early 2015 for its long-in-development retelling of Jules Verne’s classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, with the studio asking the Australian government to increase its incentives to secure what is being mooted as the biggest budget feature to shoot in Australia, The Hollywood Reporter said.
Disney had an agreement with the then Labor government announced by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard nearly 18 months ago under which it would have received a $21.6 million location incentive to shoot the big budget feature down under. That was just under a $25 million grant that 20th Century Fox received to make The Wolverine here in 2012. That film, according to politicians, created over 1,750 jobs, used more than 1,000 Australian companies and generated $80 million of investment across the country. It had the effect of raising the Locations Incentive to around 30 percent.
But a change in government last in September appears to have led to doubts that the new conservative government would honor the previous government’s commitment to Disney.
Now its emerged that Disney has asked for that $21.6 million to be increased to 30 percent of the films budget, and union the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) has backed Disney’s call for the government to increase the incentive. MEAA said it is currently negotiating a labor agreement with Disney for wages and conditions for crew who will work on 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea in early 2015.
In a statement MEAA said it “understands the Federal Government has agreed to allow the additional funding incentive originally reserved for 20,000 Leagues to be reallocated to this new production, however the studio has asked for a funding top-up to 30% of the budget”.
In an open letter to federal arts Minister George Brandis, MEAA director Malcom Tulloch said the union support Disney’s request and pressed the case for a permanent increase to the location offset. The current location offset is set at 16.5% but the previous government had offered several films a higher incentive on a case by case basis.
“As you would be aware the Location Offset plays an integral part in securing international feature films in a very competitive global market …. However the strong Australian dollar and increased competition between international jurisdictions has led to some of the lowest of offshore production on record. This is of serious concern,” Tulloch’s letter said.
“MEAA is aware that there have been a significant number of productions that have applied for a one off increase to the Location Offset to make productions viable. None of these productions have however come to fruition. As a result of uncertainty in this area Australia is now being overlooked by international feature film producers,” the letter continues.
“We would encourage the Federal Government and your department to work constructively with the film’s producers to ensure that this production is filmed in Australia. We would also encourage the Federal Government to consider increasing the Location Offset to 30% permanently and thus support in the long term the feature film Industry in this country,” Tulloch said.