Record levels of foreign production spend have helped boost Australia’s drama production spend to their highest levels, exceeding AUS$1.17bn (£600m), according to Screen Australia’s annual drama report.
Total spend on foreign shoot and PDV-only (post, digital and visual effects) titles totalled $410m in 2018/19, more than three times higher than the $111m reported in 2017/18.
On the film side, there was an expenditure of $297m on 11 foreign titles shot in Australia, including Dora And The Lost City of Gold, Monster Problems and Godzilla vs Kong.
While international TV drama accounted for AUS$115m in spend in 2018/19 – up from just AUS$4m in 2017/18, and the highest levels in more than 10 years. Nine programmes contributed to the ballooning figures, including ABC and M6 co-production Reef Break, season four of AMC’s Preacher (US), Beijing TV’s If Time Flows Back (China) and ITN’s Nirasha (Sri Lanka).
Several factors were cited by Screen Australia for the growth in foreign production, such as the fall in the Australian dollar, the federal government’s AUS$140m location incentive announced last year, and the introduction of 10% PDV rebates by the NSW and Queensland state governments. Victoria and South Australia also offer funding incentives that complement the 30% federal PDV offset.
Additionally, the Australian government announced in April this year that TV series and mini-series for online streaming platforms are eligible for the location and PDV offsets.
The location incentive has already had an impact on future production with six titles announced as shooting in Australia in the coming months – Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Thor: Love and Thunder are heading for NSW, while TV series Shantaram and Clickbair will shoot in Victoria.
The federal government has also announced it will be providing $30m to Dick Cook Studios to shoot two new adventure/fantasy films, Ranger’s Apprentice and The Alchemyst.
The 2018/19 record expenditure on Australian titles included 37 TV dramas such as The Hunting, Five Bedrooms and Total Control, for which combined spend was $334m, up 13% on last year and above the five-year average. Meanwhile, spend on Australian feature films was up 15% on last year to $299m.
“Australia has a successful film and television industry that is undertaking significant business in the production of both local and foreign drama content,” said Australian MP Paul Fletcher, minister for communications, cyber safety and the arts. “These excellent results are no accident and are a reflection on the talent of our local film and television industry, the appeal of Australian filming locations, the Australian government incentives available, state government support and direct funding from Screen Australia.”
Homepage image: Isabela Moner in Dora and the Lost City of God. Credit: Vince Valitutti, Paramount Players