By Brendan Swift

Guillermo del Toro is preparing to take the bulk of post-production work on Melbourne-based thriller Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark to New Zealand where he is preparing to film The Hobbit.

It is another blow for Australia’s post-production sector, which is struggling amid a production drought and declining US studio interest in local filming due to a sharp rise in the value of Australia’s dollar.

The decision – which has not been officially announced – will see sound post-production company Soundfirm lose Don’t Be Afraid’s sound mix and EFilm lose the grade.

However, iloura head of VFX, Ineke Majoor, said the Melbourne-based animation and VFX house is still preparing to complete visual effects on the film.

The bulk of post-production work is expected to move to Peter Jackson’s Park Road Post Production. Jackson will co-produce The Hobbit – a prequel to Jackson’s highly successful Lord of the Rings trilogy – while del Toro will direct.

The del Toro-produced thriller Don’t Be Afraid, which stars Katie Holmes and Guy Pearce, was recently filmed in Melbourne. Rushes were being shared between Deluxe and the Omnilab-owned Digital Pictures.

While the latest instalment in the big-budget Narnia series is still filming on the Gold Coast, local post-production houses such as The Post Lounge and Cutting Edge and are not involved. The studio behind the film, 20th Century Fox, is understood to have brought in its own people in order to keep costs down.

Australia also recently lost the big-budget Hollywood production Green Lantern – now expected to be filmed in Mexico – largely due to Australia’s strengthening local currency.

Green Lantern was expected to create about 500 Australian jobs in the local screen industry.

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