Liam Neeson will arrive in Melbourne next week to begin shooting a new Hollywood thriller, Blacklight, as part of the Australian government’s controversial $400million push to bring overseas productions to Australia.
According to a new report by The Age, Neeson is currently in hotel quarantine in Sydney and will fly to Melbourne this weekend (November 7-8) to begin shooting the following Tuesday (November 10).
The $43million film stars the Irish actor as “a troubled off-the-books fixer for the FBI”, who must pull out undercover agents when their cover is blown before being mixed up in a conspiracy that compromises the very heads of the government organisation. It’s set to be directed by Mark Williams, a co-creator of Ozark.
Blacklight will reportedly be the first film to use the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre as a studio, over the well-booked Dockland Studios – the traditional pick for Hollywood productions in the city. In the film, Melbourne will double as a yet-to-be-disclosed US city. Few details about the film, including other cast members, are presently available – the IMDB page lists it as under development.
As part of the $400million stimulus package, Blacklight‘s production will receive a tax offset of up to 30 per cent of its local costs. Federal Arts Minister Paul Fletcher said the federal government would contribute $5.8million to the production, and claimed it would create more than 500 roles for local cast and crew, as well as at least 550 extras.
“Blacklight will bring momentum back to the Victorian screen industry, which has been so heavily impacted by COVID-19,” Mr Fletcher said in a statement.
Labor and Greens politicians along with Screen Producers Australia CEO Matthew Deaner criticised the package when it was announced in July, highlighting that the local film industry had only received $50million in stimulus.
“It’s great to have Thor and Pirates of the Caribbean and those productions shooting here, it’s wonderful, but they don’t sell Australia,” Deaner said.
Shadow Minister for the Arts Tony Burke asked “why is the government more committed to supporting Hollywood than it is to supporting Australia’s own creative community?”.
“Not only has the government offered inadequate support for the sector – it’s actually added to the pain and uncertainty by suspending local content quotas for new drama, documentary and children’s shows. And the government has refused to commit to bringing them back when the crisis is over.”