Aust strengthens India ties with screen industry deal

Australia has signed a film production agreement with India, designed to bring Bollywood to Brisbane and Melbourne to Mumbai.

The treaty-level deal means projects in both countries will be able to get government grants, loans, and tax breaks to make screen content.

The Australia-India audiovisual co-production agreement was announced in March and has now been ratified by both nations.

"We're proud to have a large and growing Indian community here in Australia and this agreement will only see our links strengthen further and bringing our people even closer together," said foreign minister Penny Wong.

But Screen Producers Australia (SPA) said the deal is another ad hoc agreement struck without enough industry consultation.

"Without a coherent export strategy for the Australian screen industry, we are failing to capitalise and maximise the opportunities afforded by co-production agreements, such as this one with India," SPA said in a submission to the government in September.

Since Australia's international co-production program began almost 40 years ago, 14 countries have signed on, leading to 214 official co-production releases.

Yet competing nations have cut many more deals: Canada has 56, while the UK and France each have more than 50, according to SPA.

The industry will not view the deal as a success if it only results in Indian productions using Australia as a filming location, it said.

It's tricky to directly compare the screen industries in Australia and India.

India's box office was worth $A1.8 billion in 2022, and its film industry released more than 1600 films, according to a report by global accounting company EY.

Australia's box office take last year was worth $941 million, but just five per cent of this was from locally-made films with fewer than 100 local titles released, according to Screen Australia figures.

But international productions have recently spent a record $1.22 billion making films in Australia, thanks to big budget features including The Fall Guy, and Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.

The ratification comes as Australia and India hold talks focused on strategic, defence and security links between the two nations.

India and Australia are also part of the Quad, an alliance that includes Japan and the US, which aims to counter China's rising influence in Asia.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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