Hollywood action movie, Blacklight, starring Liam Neeson, is set to film in Melbourne from next Tuesday, as Australia sees a boom in production having contained the virus well, reporting no Covid-19 cases at the weekend.
Neeson has been in quarantine at a hotel in Sydney since last Saturday and is due to fly to Melbourne this weekend to commence work on the $43m film, which is written, directed and produced by Ozark co-creator Mark Williams.
The thriller about a troubled off-the-books fixer for the FBI tasked with pulling undercover agents out of dangerous situations, would likely have shot at the Docklands Studios, but the facility is fully-booked (currently hosting the Netflix and NBC Universal eight-part thriller Clickbait), so it will instead become the first film to use the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre as a studio.
Australia reported zero cases of Covid for the first time in almost five months at the weekend between 8pm on Friday and 8pm on Saturday. Australia has recorded some 27,500 infections and 900 deaths to Covid-19 since the pandemic started - far fewer than many nations.
The country adopted an approach of using lockdowns and proactive testing and tracing to contain the virus, and Victoria - where 90% of Covid deaths occurred - imposed some of the severest stay-at-home and curfew rules in the world.
Victoria and its largest city Melbourne have begun to reopen after recording no new community-transmitted cases since June.
Williams, who also directed Neeson in the recent thriller Honest Thief, said he considered shooting in the US, Canada and Australia but ultimately was swayed by Australia's success in managing the coronavirus.
One of the key attractions of filming in Australia is the federal government's $400m location incentive scheme, which tops up the 16.5% tax offset available to foreign productions to an effective 30% of local expenditure.
Arts Minister Paul Fletcher said the federal government would contribute $5.8m to Blacklight, which was expected to create more than 500 local jobs for cast and crew, as well as 550 roles for extras.
"Blacklight will bring momentum back to the Victorian screen industry, which has been so heavily impacted by COVID-19," Minister Fletcher said.