Dwayne Johnson in ‘Jumanji: The Next Level.’

An international drama created by Matchbox Pictures and two high-profile NBCUniversal US series will shoot in Queensland, spending at least $143 million, thanks to the Federal Government’s Location Incentive program.

Employing more than 1,000 local cast and crew and 2,000 extras, the Universal Studio Group productions will shoot back-to-back over the next 18 months at the Screen Queensland Studios in Brisbane and on locations in South East Queensland and Far North Queensland.

In addition, the series will spend more than $6.5 million on VFX, drawing on the creativity and innovation of Australia’s post-production houses.

The government is allocating $19.5 million to the productions, the first to take advantage of the $400 million boost to the Location Incentive designed to create a pipeline of international projects over the next seven years.

Screen Queensland is supporting the trio through the Queensland government’s Production Attraction Strategy.

Matchbox Pictures’ Irreverent is a 10-part drama which follows a criminal on the run from his life of crime back in New York. He hides out in a reef town in Far North Queensland, posing as the new church reverend.

No further information was provided but IF understands the project was created by Paddy Macrae, a Matchbox development executive who completed his Masters in Screenwriting at the VCA after working for several years in London as a copywriter and freelance journalist.

In 2015 he joined Matchbox as a full-time assistant to Tony Ayres in scripted development, working on The Family Law, Glitch, Seven Types of Ambiguity and Barracuda. He script edited the second season of Wanted and wrote one episode.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (the Jumanji franchise, Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw) will star in Young Rock, produced by Universal Television, Johnson’s Seven Bucks Productions and Nahnatchka Khan’s Fierce Baby Productions.

The 11-part comedy chronicles Johnson’s high school years in Honolulu before he and his family moved to Nashville, where he was arrested multiple times for fighting, theft and cheque fraud before the age of 17.

“We’re going to find young Rock wreaking havoc in the streets of Hawaii when I was a teenager, getting arrested seemingly every single week, doing things I shouldn’t have been doing, but still a good kid,” he said when the show was announced.

“Then we got evicted off the island and moved to, of all places Nashville, Tennessee, where I continued to get in trouble.”

Kate McKinnon.

Kate McKinnon, a dual Emmy Award winner for her performances on Saturday Night Live, will star in and executive produce Joe Exotic, an eight-part series inspired by the Netflix docuseries Tiger King.

Based on the hit Wondery podcast, the series will follow McKinnon as big cat enthusiast Carole Baskin as she learns that fellow exotic animal lover Joe “Exotic” Schreibvogel is breeding and using his big cats for profit.

She sets out to shut down his venture, inciting a rivalry which quickly escalates. However Carole has a chequered past of her own and when the claws come out, Joe will stop at nothing to expose what he sees as her hypocrisy. The results prove dangerous.

Produced by Universal Content Productions, it will premiere across three NBCU platforms: NBC, basic cable USA Network and streaming service Peacock.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher said: “Young Rock, Joe Exotic and Irreverent are high-profile, large-scale productions that reinforce Australia’s appeal as a COVID-safe location boasting high calibre production facilities and expertise.

“The productions will provide invaluable opportunities for Australian cast and crew, create a pipeline of work for local post-production, digital and visual effects businesses, and engage workers in sectors such as construction, transport, accommodation and hospitality.”

Matt Vitins, Matchbox’s chief operating officer, said: “This is an important set of projects for the Australian industry and Matchbox Pictures. The investment has created a pipeline of work over a sustained period, which means we can take a different approach to training crews, upgrading facilities and delivering high-end drama.”

Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich added: “This is a massive boost for the Queensland screen industry and a vote of confidence in how safe Queensland is as a major destination for film and TV production.”

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