MEAA members have endorsed an in-principle industrial agreement between the Walt Disney Studios and the union to shoot the fifth edition of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise in Australia.

The deal, which is subject to final proposals from Disney’s Australian reps, is broadly similar to the agreement which would have covered Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea remake; that project stalled after director David Fincher departed.

As IF has reported, Disney has asked the federal government to re-assign the $21.6 million offered by the previous Labor government to 20,000 Leagues to another studio production, believed to be Pirates 5, and to boost the total incentive to 30% of the budget.

The plan is to shoot in Port Douglas and either Victoria or New South Wales in early 2015.

Disney’s pitch to the government emerged when the MEAA wrote to Arts Minister Senator George Brandis in support of Disney’s request and to press for a permanent increase to the location offset from 16.5% to 30%.

Mal Tulloch, the MEAA’s director, entertainment, crew and sport, told IF that Disney has described the production as the biggest international feature to be made in this country.

Tulloch declined to confirm the film is Pirates 5 but said MEAA’s screen committee approved the proposed agreement, which was then endorsed by meetings of members last Thursday.

Fim Victoria CEO Jenni Tosi told IF, "While we’re unable to comment on specific projects it’s very encouraging to see the MEAA working proactively with international studios, as this will send a strong signal to others considering Australia as the location destination for their productions and bring welcome additional activity to the local industry.”

Parts of the agreement would provide slightly better conditions than the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea deal and other sections were equal to the provisions covering New Line's Gold Coast-shot disaster pic San Andreas, Tulloch said. One  potential sticking point is the crew members' concerns about travelling long distances to locations.

Tulloch hopes the Disney contract will be a major step towards a greenfields agreement for international productions that location in Oz, which will enable producers to work out their budgets in advance without the need for individual negotations.

The union is also keen to move towards an industrial deal which reflects the market rates paid to crew, which are higher than award rates.

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