The Hollywood studios and other international producers that were hoping to take advantage of the Federal Government’s $140 million Location Incentive Program over the next few years may well be disappointed.

The fund runs until June 30 2023 – but only $18 million remains to be allocated. The figure was revealed by Dr Stephen Arnott, First Assistant Secretary, Arts, at a Senate Estimates hearing in Canberra earlier this week.

Dr Arnott told Greens Senator Hanson-Young: “As of now, $122 million has been committed, so that leaves $18 million uncommitted.”

The Senator then asked: “Just to be clear, unless we put some more money in, we’ve got $18 million to spend until 2022-23?”

Dr Arnott: “Yes.”

Last week the Government announced it’s allocating $30 million from the program to Dick Cook Studios Australia’s planned fantasy features Ranger’s Apprentice and The Alchemyst.

American Bruce Hendricks will produce Ranger’s Apprentice, based on the series of novels by Australian John Flanagan, with Michael Nozik (Syriana, The Motorcycle Diaries), with shooting due to start mid-2020.

Hendricks will co-produce The Alchemyst, based on the first of six novels in the series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Irishman Michael Scott, with AMPCO Films’ Mario Andreacchio, who has held the rights since 2012. That’s due to shoot in early 2021.

Among recent recipients of LIP funding are Paramount Pictures’ Monster Problems, Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Thor: Love and Thunder, Disney’s Reef Break and season four of Sony Pictures TV’s Preacher.

At the Senate Estimates hearing Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason talked up two projects, Shantaram and Clickbait, which are benefiting from the program.

Justin Kurzel is set to direct the first two episodes of Shantaram, a 10-part drama based on the novel by Australian Gregory David Roberts, in Melbourne for Apple TV.

Charlie Hunnam (True History of the Kelly Gang, Sons of Anarchy) stars as Lin, a bank robber and heroin addict who escapes from Melbourne’s Pentridge Prison and flees to India, where he starts a new life.

Richard Roxburgh will play Federal cop Marty Nightingale, who is part of a small, elite unit trained for the pursuit and capture of escaped convicts, with Radhika Apte as Kavita, a driven Indian journalist looking for answers. Nikki Barrett is the casting director.

Tony Ayres and Christian White are co-creating Clickbait, an eight-episode thriller for Netflix, the streaming giant’s first original series to be produced in Melbourne.

“One of the exciting things is to see Australian talent working on those big shows back here at home,” Mason said.

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