Saturday, May 2, 1998. The scene is set for a new boom in the Australian film industry. Heavyweights from the Australian political and entertainment sectors are joined by international superstars in the grand opening of the giant Fox film studio complex on the outskirts of Sydney. Talented directors Jane Campion and Baz Luhrmann were both in attendance, as were playwright David Williamson, actors Miranda Otto, Tara Morice and Kate Fischer, as well as media magnates Jamie Packer and Lachlan Murdoch. A-list star Keanu Reaves was the highlight of the American contingent. The 100-performer-strong entertainment spectacle was packaged by Baz Luhrmann's production company, Bazmark Live.
It is hoped that the Fox complex will, in conjunction with the established Warner Roadshow Studios on Queensland's Gold Coast, open up a whole range of creative opportunities for Australian filmmakers and performers. Since the opening of the Warner Roadshow Studios, which promise to undercut American below-the-line budgets by close to 25 percent without compromising on quality, Australia's reputation as a viable offshore production alternative has risen markedly.
With productions such as Streetfighter (1995), Fortress (1993), The Phantom (1996) and Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers (1997) all filmed at Warner Roadshow, the studios are experiencing a popularity boom. Similarly, Sydney's facilities have already been used in the filming of Alex Proyas' upcoming release, Dark City (1998). They may also be used during the shooting of Keanu Reaves' upcoming sci-fi adventure, Matrix. The combination of predictable weather, cost-efficiency, close locations and talented Australian talent should ensure that both of these studio complexes continue to produce quality films in the future.
While many of the productions housed by each studio complex will undoubtedly be funded and produced by overseas players, the consistent influx of productions will keep Australian crew members in work, granting them the experience necessary to create films of comparable technical quality to those currently produced in Hollywood.
As long as local production is supported in the long run, the opening of these studio complexes could indeed lead to Australia's biggest production boom yet, and another renaissance of the local film industry.