The Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA) plans to stage its annual conference three months earlier than usual and relocate it to Queensland's Surfers Paradise, so that it overlaps with the Australian International Movie Convention.

"This decision can only grow Australia's film business because of the opportunities that will come from connecting more closely with exhibitors and distributors," said SPAA executive director Geoff Brown. "It will be of particular benefit to the sidebar pre-financing market SpaaMART, which was introduced last year."

The move leaves no doubt that August will be the best time for film executives from overseas to do most of their business with Australia. The actual dates of the SPAA Conference are not yet known as it is currently considering available venues near the Royal Pines, which has hosted the Movie Convention for many years.

The Australian Film Institute was not commenting today on whether its awards ceremony, which has mostly been held in conjunction with the SPAA Conference in recent years, will also be moved to coincide with this new mega-event.

SPAA was able to make the move due to the financial support offered by the Queensland Government of A$250,000 per year for the next three years starting in 2004. SPAA's three-year contract with Victoria expired last year.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, who is sure to be re-elected when he goes to the polls this weekend, this morning announced his bid to host the SPAA Conference, which has attracted such filmmakers as George Lucas, David Puttnam and Sydney Pollack in the past. He said that the annual event would be one of the biggest of its kind in the world and it "would consolidate the Gold Coast's reputation as a rival to Hollywood".

Queensland's local production levels are well below the major centres of New South Wales and Victoria but, historically, it lead the way in terms of attracting offshore production to Australia.

Beattie also announced that Dark Castle Entertainment's remake of the 1953 classic House Of Wax 3-D, is to be entirely shot at the Warner Roadshow Movieworld Studio and at various Gold Coast locations between now and June.

It is being produced by Joel Silver, Robert Zemeckis and Susan Levin and directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. It is financed under the Village Roadshow Pictures/Warner Bros joint production venture.