By Brendan Swift

Rising Sun Pictures closed its new Sydney office over the Christmas break after the expected influx of big offshore productions failed to materialise.

The company, which created visual effects on movies such as X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Terminator Salvation, has now consolidated to its Adelaide base.

RSP marketing manager Ian Cope said the strength of the Australian dollar prompted the move.

"A string of films that were destined to shoot in Sydney decided not to, predominantly due to the current global economic landscape," Cope said. "This left our Sydney studio without a major project for 2010."

Several major productions, including Warner Bros’ big budget Green Lantern, pulled out of Sydney last year as the value of the Australian dollar climbed above 90 US cents.

Green Lantern director Martin Campbell told INSIDEFILM that the comic book adventure is now due to start filming in Louisiana in March.

"Every cent you went up cost a million dollars – you do the maths,” Campbell said.

With offshore production drying up, local crews are being placed under increasing pressure along with post-production houses across the industry.

About 10 to 15 of RSP’s Sydney-based staff relocated to Adelaide while a small minority left the company.

However, the company is in the process of hiring more than 60 new employees this year and adding another 500 square meters of production space, theatre and digital intermediate capabilities to its 1200 square metre Adelaide studio.

RSP is currently working on the final two Harry Potter films and Chinese-Australian co-production The Last Dragon, which recently finished filming.

It also created effects on Bruce Beresford’s Mao’s Last Dancer and Peter Weir’s upcoming The Way Back. Cope says RSP also has other international projects in the pipeline for 2011.

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