Australia boasts record-breaking production expenditure of A$1.9bn in 2021/2

$1bn of that was from foreign projects as the country is booming

By Chris Evans 8 Dec 2021

Australia boasts record-breaking production expenditure of A$1.9bn in 2021/2

Screen Australia announces record $1.4bn (A$1.9bn) of expenditure on drama productions in the country, made up of $874m on Australian projects and $1.04bn on foreign projects produced or post-produced in Australia.

The impressive result is nearly double last year’s spend, and more than 50% above the five year average, driven by projects postponed into the year by shutdowns, low levels of Covid cases, the attractiveness of the locations, quality of local crew and infrastructure, and the enticing financial incentives.

“It is pleasing that the production of local Australian content has had its biggest year, in addition to Australia’s notable success attracting foreign productions, which have provided valuable jobs and training opportunities to the industry, according to Paul Fletcher, MP, minister for communications, urban infrastructure, cities and the arts.

“This achievement reflects the hard work and skills of our screen professionals and the talent of our storytellers, along with the success of the targeted incentives with which the Morrison government supports this key industry.”

Screen Australia’s CEO Graem Mason adds: “It’s important to look at both of the production years that were hit by the pandemic. We were on track to break records in 2019/20, and what we are seeing now is the hard work of the Australian industry, who adapted and continued to work through Covid, paying off.

“It’s simply unprecedented to have 10 big foreign productions shooting here in Australia, and especially notable that so many had key Australian creatives involvement. From Chris Hemsworth starring in Thor: Love and Thunder and Escape from Spiderhead, to Bruna Papandrea, Nicole Kidman and others bringing the adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers to Australia. A mix of local and global talent and finance drove the extraordinary result.”

“For the first time in this report we can see the specific role of SVOD investment, where spend on Australian titles reached A$116m in 2020/21. Over the past five years we have seen average production budgets for Australian SVOD drama expand from $800,000 in 2016/17 to A$13.5m in 2020/21. Spend and cost are just one of several measures of drama production, but it is worth noting that spend on Australian SVOD drama has grown and that the combined spend on drama by FTA and SVOD platforms is at similar levels as that traditionally spent by the FTA sector alone.”

63 foreign backed projects (including PDV-only titles) generated $1.04 billion spend, more than double that of 2019/20 and a new record for spend in Australia by foreign titles. This included a record spend of $793 million on three features, two TV dramas and five online dramas that commenced shooting in Australia. Spend on foreign PDV-only titles (titles that only had post, digital and visual effects activity in Australia) also reached a record $246 million, up 48% on 2019/20’s result.

Of the A$1.9bn total spend in Australia, New South Wales and Queensland achieved record spends in 2020/21, with 48% ($912 million) and 29% ($553 million) of the national share respectively. Spend in Victoria dropped slightly to $307 million, while South Australian spend reached $96 million - a reduction on last year’s record year, which was driven by production of Mortal Kombat. Spend in Western Australia dropped to $29 million, while the combined spend in the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and the Northern Territory tripled to $18 million.

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