The cast of ‘Wentworth.’
The coronavirus pandemic has forced the suspension or postponement of 119 screen productions, resulting in a loss to the production sector of $471 million.
That’s according to Screen Producers Australia’s updated screen production survey on the impact of COVID-19.
In addition to the production disruption, the survey found $20 million in export revenue has been lost, bringing the total to nearly $100 million.
Among the productions that have been shut down or delayed are Neighbours, Wakefield, Australia’s Got Talent, Back to the Rafters, Wentworth, Five Bedrooms, Harrow, The Voice Australia, The Bureau of Magical Things, Why Are You Like This?, Yes, Chef!, RFDS, The Real Housewives of Melbourne, Little J & Big Cuz, The Block and The Bachelor Australia.
That represents $232 million in actual spending and $239 million in estimates. The survey did not cover stalled Hollywood productions including Marvel Studio’s Shang-Chi & the Legend of the Ten Rings and Baz Luhrmann’s as-yet untitled Elvis Presley biopic for Warner Bros.
SPA estimates the total damage to the sector will be more than $2 billion, affecting more than 30,000 employees, freelancers and contractors.
“The good news is that some work continues to be made across varied genres such as children’s animation, light entertainment, documentaries and, potentially, drama in the weeks ahead. There are many hours of content already produced and awaiting release on broadcasters and distributors’ shelves,” said SPA CEO Matt Deaner.
Deaner reiterated SPA’s call on the Federal Government to implement a $1 billion content fund spread over four years. The aims would be to top up the existing tax offsets, supplement Screen Australia funding, mitigate insurance risks and help local production to resume as soon as possible.
SPA has slammed the government’s decision to suspend local content quotas for commercial free-to-air networks and pay TV drama channels until the end of this year and possibly beyond as a very blunt tool which has the “potential of crippling an industry already on its knees.”
It urged the government to move to platform-neutral content regulation by immediately extending quotas to cover SVOD services.
“Bold and decisive government intervention is critical not only for our economic and cultural recovery but also to protect our national sovereignty,“ Deaner added.