Screen Queensland to begin construction on new Cairns film studio in 2022

Screen Queensland to begin construction on new Cairns film studio in 2022

Artists’ impression of the planned Screen Queensland Studios, Cairns (via Screen Queensland).

Business is booming in the Queensland screen sector and Cairns is set to be the latest beneficiary with the announcement of a new film and TV studio complex to open in the far north location from mid-2022.

Development of the new Screen Queensland Cairns studios will see a former Bunnings Warehouse transformed into a a state-of-the-art facility complete with a sound stage and support facilities, production offices and construction facilities, as well as wardrobe and hair & makeup departments. 

The Queensland Government has pledged $6.8 million toward construction, with the operation expected to begin in early 2022 in preparation for a mid-2022 opening at the site located five minutes from the Cairns CBD and 13 minutes from the airport.

Queensland seized the opportunity to ramp up cinematic production when COVID-19 made production difficult in the US, securing 41 domestic and international productions throughout 2020-21 with a record-breaking $480 million injected into Queensland’s economy last financial year. 

Among other projects, the new studios in Cairns will become home for the production of Irreverent – Matchbox Pictures’ drama series for Universal Studios Group. 

Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich is optimistic that, having laid important groundwork, the construction will open up the possibility for wider opportunities in the region, adding to the Brisbane Screen Queensland studios and Village Roadshow studios already operating. 

“Queensland is open for business for the screen industry, and this new studio complex in Far North Queensland adds to an impressive offering of world-class studio facilities, unbeatable locations, some of the most competitive incentives and exceptional local crew,” Munnich said. 

“Other recent productions for Far North Queensland include the Queensland-made hit movie This Little Love of Mine, which rated number one on Netflix in the UK, and Network Ten series Dive Club also released on Netflix – both produced by Queensland’s The Steve Jaggi Company.” 

US comedy series Young Rock, documenting the life of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, commenced production on its second season this month at the Brisbane site - with the Brisbane studio and surrounds offering “competitive incentives, world-class facilities, fantastic crews and diverse locations” according to Munnich. 

Production of the first season managed to inject an estimated $27 million into the local economy, as well as creating approximately 250 jobs for local cast and crew. 

Screen Queensland has a considerable amount in the pipeline, having recently announced the production of Gracie Otto's feature film directorial debut Seriously Red executively produced by Rose Byrne, a second season of Tim Minchin's award-winning series Upright on Foxtel, and an adaptation of Markus Zusak’s best-selling novel The Messenger for the ABC. 

Other major streaming players like Disney+ have similarly taken interest in the area, with the production of Nautilius securing $23.3 million in funding from the Federal Government’s $540 million Location Incentive Program. 

Screen Queensland Head of Studios Derek Hall had said that the versatility of environments and talent around the state had made them an ideal location for many production companies.

“With this new complex in Cairns, Screen Queensland will soon be operating a network of studios across the state – that’s massive for Queensland and welcome news for local crew and creatives,” Hall said. 

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