Australia puts $22.6M into '20,000 Leagues' remake

AP News
Posted: Apr 03, 2013 12:05 AM
Australia puts $22.6M into '20,000 Leagues' remake

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia is paying its biggest Hollywood inducement ever to bring "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" Down Under.

The Walt Disney Studios will film a new version of the science fiction classic in Australia, which will pay the studio 21.6 million Australia dollars ($22.6 million) to film there, the government said Tuesday.

David Fincher of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and "The Social Network" will direct, said Disney Asia-Pacific spokeswoman Alannah Hall-Smith.

"No casting decisions have been made," she said, so the filming schedule and locations haven't been set.

The Australian newspaper reported the movie was offered to Brad Pitt, who starred in Fincher's "Fight Club," and to Channing Tatum, though nothing has been set.

The story centers on Capt. Nemo and the undersea adventures encountered on his submarine the Nautilus. Jules Verne's book was made into an Academy Award-winning movie in 1954 with Kirk Douglas starring as sailor Ned Land and James Mason as Nemo.

The announcement comes after "The Wolverine," starring Australian actor Hugh Jackman, recently wrapped filming in Sydney. The government paid Fox Studios AU$12.8 million to film in Australia.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the "The Wolverine" created more than 1,750 jobs, contracted more than 1,027 Australian companies and generated AU$80 million in investment.

She expects "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" will create more than 2,000 jobs.

A strong Australian dollar buoyed by a mining boom has made Australia less attractive to Hollywood as a filmmaking location in recent years.

The payment comes in the form of a grant based on a percentage of the film's expected expenditures in Australia. The standard location offset has been 16.5 percent, though the film industry is lobbying for it to be raised to 30 percent.

The government announced last month the creation of a new AU$20 million fund to complement the location offset. It also said it would consider increasing the offset above 16.5 percent if the Australian dollar remained high.

It wasn't known how much the payment would offset the film's budget. It is a major inducement compared to those typically offered in America, where states often give tax breaks to movie and TV productions to film within their borders. This has caused a loss of production in Hollywood, called "runaway production," because California is not as generous with tax breaks as some other states.

"The securing of this film is a huge coup for the Australian film industry and for the near 1,000 local businesses that will be providing goods and services for the film," Gillard said in a statement.

"The Wolverine" in 3D opens in July in the United States, Australia and other countries.