Mad Max Fury Road set to film in Namibia


Plans are underway to shoot the fourth Mad Max film 'Fury Road' in Namibia instead of Australia. By Brendan Swift It is understood that equipment and crew are currently preparing to move offshore and Namibia is touted as the most likely destination according to sources.

IF magazine had spent the past week attempting to confirm the ongoing rumours directly with Dr D Studios, the company's head of production, Brett Feeney, and director George Miller, via his assistant.

Instead, Miller spoke to the SMH after Broken Hill mayor Wincen Cuy confirmed that the production would not shoot in Broken Hill in a report published on the ABC website. The production had already paid for a two-year lease on Station B at the newly-constructed Broken Hill Studios last December, as well as an option for a third year.

The production was close to filming in Namibia in 2003 before the first Iraq War scuttled production plans. But the project was officially revived in October 2009 when director George Miller announced that pre-production was again well underway – this time with New South Wales providing the locations.

However, delays have continued to plague the film, which was originally set to shoot last year. Miller has blamed unseasonal weather in Broken Hill, which has turned the post-apocalyptic desert landscape into lush greenery. “It’s not as green as it was, but it’s not as desolate as the filmmakers would like,” Broken Hill mayor Wincen Cuy said.

Miller and the team are currently in the throes of finishing Happy Feet 2, which is due to be released on December 26. US studio Warner Bros is funding and distributing both films. The film is set to star Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron although both have moved on to other projects because of the delays.

Another local source said Fury Road no longer had an explicit green light for production although Miller has consistently said the film will be made. Fury Road shares listed on the Hollywood Stock Exchange – an artificial money market which allows investors to predict the four-week gross box office – have more than halved this year to about $US32.

As well as ongoing issues with the landscape, the rising value of the Australian dollar may also have affected the decision where to shoot Fury Road.

The Australian dollar has risen by more than 15 per cent since the original production announcement in October 2009 (from US92.8¢ to $US1.07), although that may not be a factor if Warner Bros had already locked in the production budget in local currency.

Almost three years ago the rising dollar drove blockbuster Green Lantern offshore, despite Warner Bros already booking several sound stages at Fox Studios Australia. It also forced other major productions considering Australian shoots, such as Battleship, to choose other locations.

Shooting Fury Road offshore does not preclude it from receiving the 40 per cent Producer Offset rebate (which is reserved for Australian films) on qualifying Australian expenditure, but it may lessen the value of the subsidy.

The last major Australian film to predominately shoot overseas was $10 million drama Disgrace: it spent eight weeks shooting on location in South Africa and only one week shooting in Sydney in 2007. (However, that film was funded via the now-defunct 10BA tax-based subsidy. It received almost $5 million in funding via former government agency, the Film Finance Corporation.)

Nonetheless, if Fury Road is unable to access the Producer Offset it could still receive a substantial rebate via the Post, Digital and Visual Effects (PDV) Offset, which was doubled to 30 per cent in the Federal Budget. The Location Offset provides 16.5 per cent of qualifying expenditure.