Will this tropical film hub attract Hollywood studios?

The new screen hub will hopefully attract the big stars like Julia Roberts and George Clooney, who starred in a film set in the tropics.

The new screen hub will hopefully attract the big stars like Julia Roberts and George Clooney, who starred in a film set in the tropics. Photo: Twitter

Six years after the old Bunnings warehouse on the outskirts of Cairns was identified as the location to build a $13 million state-of-the-art film and television studio hub for Queensland, its doors are about to open.

In a bid to cement Far North Queensland as a global film hub, the new 15-hectare complex will complement Screen Queensland Studios in Brisbane and Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast.

Far North Queensland Screen Champion, Speaker of the Queensland Parliament Curtis Pitt MP, has been a long-time advocate for its construction, to create employment opportunities and build on the state’s reputation as a go-to film location for Hollywood.

When the state government first launched the project in October 2021, Pitt said the 6500 square metre site at Portsmith, just five minutes from the CBD, will create “the largest studio network in the southern hemisphere”.

Star attraction

The state has already hosted high profile Hollywood stars including Orlando Bloom and Katy Perry for Wizards! and George Clooney and Julia Roberts for Ticket to Paradise.

Tom Hanks flew in for Elvis, director Ron Howard has been walking the tropical beaches for his feature film, Eden, while streaming giant Netflix has poured money into local productions including Irreverent at Mission Beach.

Motivated by the high demand from both Australian and international productions, the site will be home to a 1070 square metre sound stage, production offices, editing suites, a sound recording studio, construction, wardrobe and up to 100 car spaces.

The project was officially announced three years ago, and was supposed to officially open mid-2022, but construction didn’t get underway until March last year.

At a sneak peak in August, Screen Queensland’s head of studios and physical production Mark Melrose told the Cairns Post the site had seen “huge interest” from industry heavyweights in Hollywood and Australia.

Attracting FNQ production companies, casting agencies and sound engineers to make their home on the site was also part of the grand plan.

“We want to do everything to foster and build the local industry,” Melrose told the Post.

“We want to put plans in place and develop local crew to be able to be employable on productions that come in here and at the same time, working with locals to get local productions made out of here.

“It is a magnet, absolutely everybody knows about it, everybody is interested in it.”

Last week, the state’s top film body announced a teaser 30-second video on social media that the complex was ready to roll the cameras.

“Screen Queensland Studios, Cairns is coming! Situated in the heart of Far North Queensland, amid the idyllic landscapes that draw productions from near and far,” it wrote.

An earlier digital sketch of the site. Photo: Screen Queensland

Films in the pipeline

It is too early to say, but with the existing state and federal government tax incentive schemes, Australia continues to attract big Hollywood studios which meet a budget threshold.

If all goes to plan, the facility will open by the end of April.

Closer to home, the funding body announced this week the sequel to the 2003 hit Gettin’ Square, starring David Wenham and Gary Sweet, has started filming.

Titled Spit, it picks up the story 20 years after ex-junkie Johnny Spitieri returns to his home town.

“With Queensland’s vibrant locations and the iconic nature of the original film, Spit promises to once again captivate audiences with its unique blend of humour and heart,” says boss Jacqui Feeney.

“We are extremely proud to back diverse Queensland stories which entertain audiences both here and globally, including series like Boy Swallows Universe, Black Snow and Troppo,” she said.

‘‘Feature films such as Audrey, which recently made a splash at SXSW in the US, and upcoming productions How to Make Gravy and Spit continue the homegrown legacy Screen Queensland is helping to build for our state’s screen sector.”

Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.