Wolverine strikes a blow for Australian film industry

Hugh Jackman's latest Wolverine film has created 1700 Australian jobs and benefited 850 companies thanks to the federal government's $12.8 million investment.

The film, starring Jackman as Logan/Wolverine and shot in New South Wales and Japan, is expected to be released next July. It follows an improvement in Australian film and television drama's fortunes, with the value of production rising 25 per cent last year.

The Arts Minister, Simon Crean, said The Wolverine, directed by James Mangold and filmed in Sydney's Fox Studios and NSW areas such as Oberon, Picton, Homebush and Parramatta, would generate more than $80 million in investment in Australia.

However, there was industry consternation in April when the federal government announced the $12.8 million one-off investment in the film – the equivalent of boosting the usual 16.5 per cent location offset to 30 per cent.

The location offset is the tax rebate on the Australian spend of large-budget productions that do not satisfy the significant Australian content test for the producer offset.

Industry figures have called for a bigger location offset to be broadly applied so that Australia's film industry can become competitive in the face of the strong Australian dollar.

Mr Crean is expected to take some broad proposals to the federal cabinet's last meeting this year to help the film industry before the expected release of the national cultural policy in the first quarter of 2013.

He told Fairfax Media it would be a waste if the national cultural policy was not released until the federal election, although he conceded it was a matter of gaining cabinet support for greater funding.

"I've made it clear we should be looking to increase the location offset," he said.

Mr Crean said the Wolverine job figures highlighted the importance of investing in the arts as a key contributor to local and national economic growth.

“To date, The Wolverine has created over 1700 jobs across Australia since production commenced earlier this year, bringing a significant boost to communities, the local economy and the film industry,” Mr Crean said.

“The Australian jobs created as a result of investment in The Wolverine cover the full spectrum of the production sector to the people behind the cameras and in studios – the set builders, lighting technicians, editors and special effects artists.

“About 850 Australian companies, from industries including hospitality, transport and catering goods and service providers, have gained contracts as a result of the production.

“In addition to the thousands of local jobs created, The Wolverine will generate over $80 million of investment in Australia.

“Bringing The Wolverine to Australia has not only reaffirmed our status as one of the world's best filming destinations, it is helping to develop the skills and experience of our film sector and ensuring industry jobs are kept here in Australia, not overseas.

“Major feature films also provide a training ground for up-and-coming film technicians, and more experienced filmmakers have the opportunity to hone their craft on the world stage."

This story Wolverine strikes a blow for Australian film industry first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.