Subsidised blockbusters like Aquaman crowding out local film productions

There is new anecdotal evidence from film industry insiders that subsidised blockbusters such as Aquaman, currently filming on the Gold Coast, are not delivering the economic benefits they allegedly deliver. International film productions on the GC have benefited from federal and state tax breaks and from a new $16 million sound stage at Village Roadshow Studios largely funded by the Queensland Government. But there is no sound public policy rationale for these subsidies. I have previously noted how the blockbusters attracted to the GC typically do not provide ongoing economic benefits and provide mostly temporary low-paid jobs for locals. Now some other facts which add to the con side of the pro-con analysis are emerging. As reported in Sunday’s Gold Coast Sun, regarding movies such as Aquaman and Ragnarok that benefited from federal and state government assistance, Gold Coast film insiders say Hollywood blockbusters may be doing more harm than good:

…according to several Gold Coast industry insiders the heavy focus on luring these movies to the area could be doing more harm than good.

They also said because these movies were so big they tended suck up all the available space at local studios, forcing smaller productions out.

They said while a lot of media focused on the job creating benefits of the movies, they failed to reveal that many of the films brought their talent with them from the US or imported it from Sydney…

…“When a show takes up an entire lot nothing else can be made there but they are paying a premium to occupy that space,” one insider said.

“It does bring focus to the area but in terms of local employment doesn’t offer much.”

I have previously been critical of government assistance to international film productions, so none of this comes as a surprise to me. For more on why governments should not subsidise Hollywood blockbusters, see:

Weekend reading: CIS Policy mag featuring my article on film industry subsidies, available at good newsagents

Should the Aquaman film production on the Gold Coast get a $22M tax break?

Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

The GC has many natural advantages; we do not need to subsidise Hollywood on the GC

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