State’s billion-dollar movie bonanza
QUEENSLAND will be able to tout itself as a breeding ground for $1 billion blockbusters with Aquaman set to reach the coveted box office milestone today.
When weekend figures roll in, the homegrown superhero flick will become the first movie filmed in Queensland to surpass $1 billion worldwide, and one of just 37 films in history.
Aquaman, filmed on the Gold Coast in 2017, will be just the third DC Comics flick to eclipse the mammoth figure - along with the two Dark Knight films - and is the highest-grossing non-Disney/non-Universal film since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part II in 2011.
While Queensland has had wins in the past, such as Scooby-Doo's $275,650,703 haul in 2002, Aquaman follows year-on-year box office growth for Queensland-made blockbusters in the past five years.
Following the success of disaster film San Andreas ($473,990,832) in 2015 came Kong: Skull Island ($566,652,812) and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ($794,861,794) in early-2017 and then Thor: Ragnarok ($853,977,126) by the year's end.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the success of Aquaman - which injected $144 million into the local economy and created 1700 jobs for cast, crew, and extras - would significantly strengthen "industry confidence in our capability to work on major productions".
"Queensland is well positioned to build on this success and attract more international productions to the state with potential repeat business with studios we have already worked with, as well as improved confidence in developing new partnerships within the industry," Ms Palaszczuk said. "It will also have significant tourism benefits, with fans booking holidays to Queensland to see some of the stunning locations featured in Aquaman, such as Currumbin Beach, North Stradbroke Island and The Spit at the Gold Coast."
The attraction of big-budget films has been put down to a combination of Federal Government tax incentives offered to big Hollywood studios, the Queensland Government's active pursuit of productions, and competitive locations and facilities - including the purpose-built water tank and 40,000sqft (3716sqm) Sound Stage 9 at Village Roadshow Studios in Oxenford, first used on Thor: Ragnarok.
The box office glory comes after Ms Palaszczuk revealed last month that she had written to Warner Bros executive Bill Draper asking him to put the Gold Coast studio at the top of his list should an Aquaman sequel be greenlit.
Titular star Jason Momoa, who made room in his schedule to return to the Gold Coast for the film's Australian premiere last month, also said that he thought a sequel "probably would" be filmed in Queensland.
Thor: Ragnarok, Aquaman and Pacific Rim: Uprising helped Queensland land a record $424 million expenditure in 2016/17, and while it dipped to $137 million last financial year, a string of recently announced blockbusters should bode well for the state. The live-action Dora The Explorer film from Paramount Pictures will hit cinemas next year, secured after the Premier's trade mission to the US, while Warner Bros and Legendary joint project Godzilla vs. Kong, starring Millie Bobby Brown and Alexander Skarsgard, and Disney television series Reef Break are both in pre-production on the Gold Coast. Godzilla vs. Kong is the first major production lured to Australia by the $140 million tax break announced in the federal budget in May last year.
Ms Palaszczuk has also teased that she was currently in discussions with another high-profile director.
Meanwhile, in June, Mel Gibson was snapped dining with Screen Queensland executives at Stokehouse Q in Brisbane and scouting locations around southeast Queensland, shortly after news broke out of Hollywood that he was set to helm World War II film Destroyer.
Rumoured star of the film Mark Wahlberg soon after let it slip that he would head to Queensland for filming in the future.