Money talks and it obviously has in the case of The Wolverine: a one-off payment of $12.8 million from the Gillard Government, the Federal Government’s location offset, a direct incentive from the NSW Government, and NSW payroll tax relief all helped secure the sixth film in the X-Men science fiction franchise for Australia.
The NSW Government isn’t saying how much cash its putting in but all these incentives have obviously exceeded the negative effect of the strong Australian dollar, which is causing most Hollywood blockbusters to stay clear of Australia.
It is highly unusual for the Federal Government to make one-off payments outside the official incentives: in a media release jointly issued by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Arts Minister Simon Crean it was stated that it is equivalent to an increase in the existing location offset to 30 per cent. Whether this is a positive sign that the location incentive will be increased is a subject ofspeculation.
The film would be getting more taxpayer funding if it had qualified for the 40 per cent producer offset but US line producer Joe Caracciolo, at a media conference held at Animal Logic at Sydney’s Fox Studios this morning, said it did not. In other words, it has not been deemed an Australian film – Hugh Jackman’s involvement as producer and star notwithstanding.
Caracciolo said the numbers added up for US studio Twentieth Century Fox to choose Sydney, but there was another key factor too: “We needed to shoot in a place with extremely high quality crew and technical facilities.”
Sydney is standing in for Japan in this film and cameras are set to roll in August with James Mangold directing. The producers are Lauren Shuler Donner, Jackman and John Palermo.
Doing most of the talking this morning was deputy premier and minister for trade and investment Andrew Stoner. He said the 20th Century Fox production is expected to spend more than $80 million in the state, and create jobs for 720 local cast and crew and for 1,200 extras.
"It is a testament to our screen industry that Hugh Jackman and his team have chosen to come back to NSW, after such a positive experience making the X-Men Origins: Wolverine here in 2008," said Stoner.
Post-production work on the film will occur predominantly in the United States, but a sizeable portion of the visual effects will be completed in NSW.
The Wolverine is slated for release in July 2013.