As the X-Men Origins: Wolverine publicity machine kicked into gear today, one ofthe producers on the film, Seed Productions, confirmed that it has applied for taxpayer fundingthrough Screen Australia.
Seed, co-owned by John Palermo and actor Hugh Jackman, has not appliedforWolverine, but is developing other features likely to be eligible for the 40% production offset for Australian films.
The company has a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox, but Palmero said that winning support through Screen Australia’s Enterprise Programme would give the company the ability to make its own decisions without reference to its studio partner.
‘The biggest misconception is that we have pockets full of cash,’ said Palmero, who met with Screen Australia’s chief executive Ruth Harley this week.
Screen Australia is in its first year of operation and the Enterprise Programme is a key initiative. The programme aims to provide financial assistance to businesses that can help make the Australian industry viable, and can take over some of the tasks of Screen Australia’s predecessor, such as script and talent development.
Up to $350,000 (A$500,000) is available per year to individual companies through the programme, but more than 100 businesses have applied for the $2.12 million (A$3m) available in the financial year ending this June 30.
Palmero was principally based in Australia for two years after Seed was established in 2006 but has since moved back to the LA office. There are two executives in Sydney and five in LA.
Palmero said the US studios would be apprehensive about the offset - the Australian government will return 40% of the Australian expenditure on a qualifying Australian film - until cheques started arriving. Presumably this will happen soon for Baz Luhrmann’s Australia.
Screendaily talked to Palmero during a half-day media event for Gavin Hood’s new X-Men prequel, held on an island in Sydney Harbour. Twenty minutes of footage was shown during what was the first stop of a worldwide publicity tour.
Jackman said at the press conference that the 15% location rebate for foreign films shooting in Australia - the financial incentive that Wolverine can access - was not enough to give Australia a competitive edge in the current environment and he feared activity would slow down.
But it was ‘exactly the right thing’, he added, for the government to ‘go out on a limb’ and support the Australian film industry. ‘The 40% was way more aggressive than anyone could have hoped for,’ Jackman said. ‘In the best possible world, selfishly, film people would be grateful for a bigger rebate on both but we need to count our blessings.’