While our local exchange rate, the enthusiasm of Australian crews, the financial and tax benefits enjoyed by overseas investors and our naturally occurring abundance of diverse landscapes has made Australia a popular destination for American production in the past, the level of American investment on our soil has never been as great as it is at present.
The opening of Sydney's much-publicised Fox Film Studios earlier this year, coupled with the recent successes of Dark City and Babe have attracted a great deal of foreign interest in our sunburnt country. With traces of this year's devastating Asian economic crisis keeping our dollar's exchange rate around the sixty cent mark, the time has never been as advantageous for foreign investors keen to exploit our natural resources, in terms of both personnel and habitat. Recently, Mel Gibson's production company announced that it was interested in forming a joint venture with the Fox Studios. And the result? An air of anticipation on behalf of Industry watchers.
The anticipation transformed into adulation recently as press releases confirmed that not only was John Woo's action extravaganza Mission Impossible 2 going to be produced and shot in Sydney, utilising Australian crews, but part of one of cinema's most historically significant sagas, Star Wars was also part of Fox' international conquest.
George Lucas announced that Episode II, starring Ewan MacGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi, will begin its period of principal photography late in 1999, creating hundreds of jobs for Australian crew members. He followed this by stating that Epsode III would also be filmed on our shore, each film boasting a whopping $120 million budget.
With huge success stories such as these being awarded to Australia, while our neighbour, New Zealand, stages The Lord of the Rings trilogy, will undoubtedly draw the attention of the entire film world below the equator during the crossover into the next millenium.