Image (1) australia_flag__121115100326.gif for post 372104In a major coup for Australia, Disney in the past year filmed Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales locally with a contribution from the state government of AUD$21.6M. The studio is now confirmed to return, bringing Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok Down Under for a 2016 shoot while Fox’s untitled Ridley Scott Alien project will also wing its way to Oz next year. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Communications & Arts Minister Mitch Fifield made the announcement at a press conference in Canberra this afternoon local time.

Ridley ScottCombined, the productions will have AUD$47.25M ($34M) in government funds, said the officials who expect an inward investment of over AUD$300M ($216M) into the economy and 3,000 “direct jobs” for Australians. It wasn’t immediately clear which film is getting how much, but the funds do effectively raise the 16.5% location offset incentive to 30%, something for which the industry has long lobbied. It is not, however, an official across the board increase.

Fifield said spending the money was a chance to “highlight Australia as a place to film and do business, it also presents the opportunity for us to showcase Australia.” In recent years, the strong Oz dollar has hampered Australia’s ability to attract large-scale foreign films, and indstry orgs like Ausfilm believe formally upping the rebate is key to not losing productions to places like Canada and Hungary.

Thor himself (and local son) Chris Hemsworth, sent a video message to the press conference saying he was “incredibly excited” to be “coming back home to work with our extrememly talented production industry… It’s fantastic to see the Prime Minister and the government supporting our creative industries.”

Chris HemsworthExact locations for the films have not yet been revealed, although Sydney’s Fox Studios was previously home to The Wolverine. This year, Pirates 5 shot in part at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast. Those should be indicators. The last Thor installment, Thor: The Dark World, was largely filmed at the UK’s Shepperton Studios, as are many Marvel titles. But, I’m cautioned the Ragnarok move to Oz doesn’t signal a sea change as Marvel pics have also shot in South Africa, Atlanta and Korea among other locales.

Along with Pirates 5; Australia has seen some increased activity over the past year. In 2014/15, the country hosted physical production for Sony Pictures Classics’ Truth and Syfy mini Childhood’s End. VFX and post were completed locally in the past year on Marvel’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Ant-Man; Warner Bros’ Pan and Our Brand is Crisis; and Paramount’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water, among others.

CEO of Ausfilm, Debra Richards, nevertheless says the org “continues to advocate for a permanent increase to the Location Offset to ensure Australia is internationally competitive.”