Coffs Harbour on the NSW Mid North Coast will become a key location in “Aussiewood”, thanks to its most famous local resident, Russell Crowe.
Crowe will establish a film studio in the coastal city, cashing in on the influx of filmmakers from around the world following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For a number of years, I’ve been thinking how I might be able to combine where I live and my work,” Crowe said on Wednesday.
Australia has become a magnet for global movie heavyweights since the pandemic began; the country now considered to be one of the most COVID-safe filming locations in the world.
Hollywood’s A-list including Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks have flocked to Australian shores for projects, Sydney’s Fox Studio is booked up for Marvel movies in the short term and George Miller recently announced plans to shoot the big-budget Mad Max prequel, Furiosa locally in 2022.
Australian stalwart actor and friend of Crowe, Jack Thompson said it has created the perfect opportunity for Crowe to capitalise on the trend.
“It will be fabulous for the film industry in Australia, because it affirms – that we are a focus for English-speaking film-making.”
Coffs Harbour is halfway between sound stages in Sydney and the Gold Coast and close to the in-demand filming locations in and around Byron Bay.
The film studio has been described as a “family friendly” site, which will be located on the grounds of an existing holiday resort where cast families will be able to stay.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro was in Coffs Harbour for the announcement.
“This project has the potential to elevate Coffs Harbour to the world stage with international demand for filming space currently at an all-time high,” he said.
A timeline for construction has not been locked in, but Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh said the government would assist the studio’s creation.
“The planning process is expected to take – give or take – about 12 months.
Mr Singh added the NSW government would look to rezone the site as a Regional Jobs Precinct, which would ease the planning process.
“Within a few months after that construction will hopefully begin.”
The total cost is not yet known. However, no taxpayer funds have been committed to the project, which has been estimated to have a capital investment value of $438 million.