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Covid-19: Hollywood abandons Australia amid pandemic lockdowns

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Hollywood abandons Australia: Film and TV productions leave the country due to endless lockdowns, border restrictions and Covid-zero premiers


Australia was once a magnet for Hollywood filmmakers hoping to escape America’s Covid crisis.

But the country’s filmmaking Golden Age has come to an end, as productions jump ship due to Australia’s strict lockdowns and border closures.

According to industry bible Variety, Australia’s appeal has ‘waned’ among Hollywood producers in recent months due to the country’s low vaccination rate and the uncontrollable spread of the Delta variant.

Hollywood abandons Australia: Multiple film and TV productions have left the country due to endless lockdowns, border restrictions and Covid-zero premiers. Pictured: Natalie Portman, who left Australia in August after pulling out of her film Days of Abandonment

Hollywood abandons Australia: Multiple film and TV productions have left the country due to endless lockdowns, border restrictions and Covid-zero premiers. Pictured: Natalie Portman, who left Australia in August after pulling out of her film Days of Abandonment 

While filming is technically considered ‘essential work’ in Australia, many productions have struggled to navigate complicated health regulations and border closures.

‘Juggling border restrictions, authorised worker lists and changing local rules is becoming too troublesome for large film crews,’ the Variety report states.

In August, production on HBO film Days of Abandonment ground to a halt in Sydney after lead actress Natalie Portman dropped out due to ‘unforeseen personal reasons’.

Exit: Netflix bailed on the Australian production of Melissa McCarthy's (pictured) series God's Favorite Idiot in June, after filming eight out of 16 episodes

Exit: Netflix bailed on the Australian production of Melissa McCarthy’s (pictured) series God’s Favorite Idiot in June, after filming eight out of 16 episodes 

The LA-based star fled Sydney with her family days later, shortly before new Covid restrictions were set to be enforced.

Netflix bailed on the Australian production of Melissa McCarthy’s series God’s Favorite Idiot in June, after filming eight out of 16 episodes.  

Last month, Netflix also halted filming of Chris Hemsworth’s movie Extraction 2, relocating the set from Sydney to Prague.

Insiders told Variety the decision to change locations was due to the strict Covid-19 lockdowns in New South Wales. 

'Too troublesome': While filming is technically considered 'essential work' in Australia, many productions have struggled to navigate complicated health regulations and border closures. Pictured: Chris Hemsworth, whose film Extraction 2 moved from Sydney to Prague last month

‘Too troublesome’: While filming is technically considered ‘essential work’ in Australia, many productions have struggled to navigate complicated health regulations and border closures. Pictured: Chris Hemsworth, whose film Extraction 2 moved from Sydney to Prague last month

Despite the doom and gloom, Screen NSW remains optimistic about the future of Australia’s film industry. 

‘Contrary to the claim, there is no exodus of international films from NSW because of the current Covid-19 situation,’ a spokesman told The Daily Telegraph on Thursday.  

Australia Film boss Kate Marks offered a pragmatic response to the industry’s decline, saying: ‘We always knew that the global environment at some point would even out and it would become as competitive as it was pre-Covid.’ 

‘So this is not a surprise to us to see other territories opening up and coming back online and making it competitive,’ Ms Marks added.  

New plan: Last month, Netflix also halted filmed of Chris Hemsworth's movie Extraction 2, relocating filming from Sydney to Prague. Pictured: Chris Hemsworth in Extraction 1

New plan: Last month, Netflix also halted filmed of Chris Hemsworth’s movie Extraction 2, relocating filming from Sydney to Prague. Pictured: Chris Hemsworth in Extraction 1 

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