Ron Howard's new movie a $96 million boost for film industry

Ron Howard's new movie a $96 million boost for film industry

The Australian film industry will get a $96 million boost early next year with the production of Ron Howard film Thirteen Lives to be filmed in Queensland.

The federal government is providing $13 million to Imagine Entertainment and MGM to shoot the film which is based on the 2018 Tham Laung cave rescue of a boys' soccer team in Thailand.

Although a cast has yet to be named, the lush surrounds of the Gold Coast hinterland have been chosen to recreate the Thai landscape when filming starts in March.

The movie, to be directed by Howard, is expected to create 435 jobs for cast and crew, as well as an equivalent 3,400 background extra days, and it is estimated to inject more than $96 million into the economy.

Thirteen Lives follows the true story of the Thai cave rescue of a boys' soccer team, trapped in a cave by heavy rain and flooding.

Facing days underground with no supplies and falling oxygen levels, a rescue team from around the world gathered near the site to work with the people of Thailand to save the boys. Among those experts were a group of divers from the United Kingdom and Australia.

Howard, an Academy Award-winning director whose film credits include A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, The Da Vinci Code and Frost/Nixon, says he's happy to be working in Australia on this new project after launching a creative initiative in the domestic film industry in February.

That's when Howard announced he was bringing his film and television development lab Imagine Impact to Australia, the first time it had been run outside of America.

Although the eight-week program had to go virtual due to COVID-19, the entertainment accelerator named 10 projects that will take part in its debut talent program.

Howard thanked the federal government for supporting Thirteen Lives.

"Over the years, I've both enjoyed and creatively benefitted from collaborations with Australian artists and technicians in front of and behind the camera, from Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Chris Hemsworth to John Seale, Donald McAlpine and Andrew Rowlands and many others," he says.

"From Thirteen Lives to the animated projected I am directing with Animal Logic in Australia, I am excited about the opportunity to film and work in Australia and dramatically expand on that list of collaborators whose sensibilities and work ethic I have long admired and respected."

Thirteen Lives is supported by the federal government's $400 million boost to the Location Incentive to create a pipeline of international projects, aimed at creating tens of thousands of Australian jobs in the screen industry over the next seven years.

"Thirteen Lives will tell the remarkable story of the effort by many volunteers, including Australians, to undertake an incredibly complex rescue, and I am proud to say that this story will be told here in Australia," says Paul Fletcher, the federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts.

"In addition to recording this remarkable story for posterity, the production itself will create vital job opportunities and will engage the services of an estimated 300 Australian businesses.

"I understand this project will also undertake a significant amount of cutting-edge visual effects work here, a great opportunity for our local post, digital and visual effects companies."

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