The recent trips Australian politicians have made to LA to stump for Oz as a location destination are paying off. After it was announced last week that Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok and Fox’s Untitled Ridley Scott Alien project would head Down Under, today comes word that Legendary Pictures’ Kong: Skull Island is taking up residence in Queensland. The region’s Premier and Minister for the Arts, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said pre-production will begin this month for filming to start early next year. This is the King Kong origins story that Legendary recently moved from from Universal to Warner Bros to launch a new franchise that will see the giant ape share the stage with Godzilla in a future iteration.
Whereas the Oz government increased contributions to the Thor and Alien pics, effectively raising the 16.5% location offset incentive to 30%, it was not revealed how much Australia is ponying up for Skull Island which will also shoot in two other international territories including Hawaii, the Gold Coast Bulletin reported separately. Palaszczuk did say that the film “will spend more than AUD$15 million ($10.9M)” in Queensland, which is the minimum to access the main incentive, and create 60 local jobs. In recent years, the strong Oz dollar has hampered Australia’s ability to attract large-scale foreign films, but the U.S. greenback has gained and the local government has clearly been making in-roads.
“I met with Legendary Pictures in Los Angeles in June and am thrilled they have chosen to film in Queensland,” Palaszczuk said. “Securing Kong: Skull Island demonstrates the momentum we are building to ensure Queensland is a destination of choice for major producers and international studios. This past year, Disney’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales shot in Queensland at the Village Roadshow Studios where Skull Island will also land.
Along with Thor: Ragnarok, other foreign productions that are in the Queensland pipeline include China/Oz co-pro The Nest 3D with Li Bingbing and Sony’s Jaume Collet-Serra-directed The Shallows with Blake Lively.
Tom Hiddleston — who’s also in Thor — stars in Skull Island with Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson, John Goodman, Tian Jing, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham, and Toby Kebbell. The story, says Legendary, will fully immerse audiences in the mysterious and dangerous home of the iconic ape as a team of explorers ventures deep inside the treacherous, primordial island.
Jordan Vogt-Roberts is directing from a script by John Gatins, Max Borenstein, Dan Gilroy, and Derek Connolly. Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni will produce with Mary Parent. Alex Garcia and Eric McLeod are executive producers. Release is set via Warner on March 10, 2017.