Village Roadshow Studios celebrates a milestone
Village Roadshow Studios reaches a milestone on July 22, marking 30 years of Village Roadshow ownership.
Built by Dino De Laurentiis’ short-lived Australian company DEL in 1986, the facility has hosted more than 155 productions with total budgets of $3.6 billion. Studios president Lynne Benzie calculates those productions spent $1.8 billion in Queensland.
“It is a great time to be celebrating 30 years, especially after the Australian government announced the $140 million Location Incentive fund for international productions,” said Benzie, who joined in 1990 after working in sales and marketing for EMI Records.
The lot has grown from five purpose-built sound stages and an administration building when VRL took control in 1988 to today’s world-class facility offering nine sound stages, three water tanks, 10 production offices, wardrobe and construction buildings.
Paramount Pictures’ Dora the Explorer is currently shooting there and Chinese fantasy Legend of Sun and Moon wrapped recently. Benzie is awaiting the release of the guidelines for the Location Incentive Fund, noting that a number of productions are eager to apply once they know if they are eligible.
English-born, she started as personal assistant to Michael Lake, who was the joint MD with the late Nick McMahon. Lake focused on attracting international productions while McMahon courted TV projects.
She was later promoted to vice president of studio operations and succeeded Lake as president eight years ago when he left. Among her proudest achievements, she was project manager on the construction of stages 7, 8 and 9.
Among the major Hollywood productions it has hosted in the past few years are Aquaman, Thor: Ragnarok, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Kong: Skull Island and San Andreas.
Thor: Ragnarok producer Brad Winderbaum said: “It was a great place to make a movie. I lived there for six or seven months. It gave us an opportunity to paint on a brand new canvas. There were just so many amazing new environments we could put on screen … one of the most amazing crews, ever.”
The facility also catered for Australian features such as Kimble Rendall’s Guardians of the Tomb and Bait as well as all three seasons of Jonathan M. Shiff Productions’ Mako: Island of Secrets.
Rendall said: “Fantastic place to shoot. The support from the funding bodies, the councils, amazing crews, locations. Love it. And love working with Lynne who makes it a fun experience whilst getting the job done.”
The site is also utilised for major music rehearsals, product launches, commercials, live broadcasts, sets and mazes for Movie World’s Fright Nights and most recently the Commonwealth Games, hosting squash, table tennis and boxing, which attracted 70,000 spectators.