Hollywood mogul Brett Ratner wants to make ‘as many movies as we can’ in Australia; Flashback to the Hollywood, Australia and casino themed movie connection

Hollywood mogul Brett Ratner wants to make ‘as many movies as we can’ in Australia; Flashback to the Hollywood, Australia and casino themed movie connection

Brett Ratner Hollywood mogul, head of Ratpac Entertainment pictured at his Crown Tower's hotel room

It is a match made in Hollywood heaven. He is a US film mogul, and she is or was Australia’s most powerful woman.

But this is no script for a Hollywood movie romance. Rather, it is a budding business relationship between LA uber-producer, RatPac Entertainment boss Brett Ratner, and Australia's own Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

And the pairing could lure billions of dollars to Australia.

In an exclusive interview, Ratner tells me he is working with Bishop to champion a push for Hollywood to make “as many movies as we can” Down Under.

I now hear that Bishop is looking at permanently boosting film tax incentives to allow Australian-made US blockbusters to become regular events.

“The combination of the incentives and the low Aussie dollar could be fantastic for Australia,” Ratner says.

The power pair met several times in LA last month: at RatPac’s head office, a fashion show and, finally, joining forces to sell movie-making in Australia to Hollywood’s most powerful studio boss, Warner Brothers’ Kevin Tsujihara.


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“Julie’s fantastic,” Ratner says. “I introduced her to (Kevin) and she’s working on helping the government come up with a better tax incentive so we can bring big motion pictures (to Australia). I want to get this going.”

Ratner says it was crucial for Bishop to talk to Tsujihara, because Warner Bros “makes more movies than any other studio in the business”.

By meeting’s end, Bishop and Tsujihara had “hit it off”.

Ratner has big influence at Warner. Under a deal running until 2017, RatPac finances a quarter of every Warner film. Money-spinning blockbusters that have resulted include Gravity, American Sniper and The Lego Movie.

Last month, Bishop announced the government had attracted two films to Australia with government subsidies: Ridley Scott’s Prometheus sequel for Fox, and Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok, starring Chris Hemsworth.

RatPac’s Aussie connection through James Packer’s half-ownership of RatPac has driven Ratner to go in hard with Bishop to lure more US movies: “We’re half an Australian company, even though we’re not based there, and James is a total Australian.”

Ratner says the low dollar is a “huge” boost in the bid to lure Hollywood to Australia.

China is already a big destination for RatPac. Packer has counselled Ratner (who introduced him to current love Mariah Carey) about the huge potential of movie-making in China, and they have already been making movies there.

“James told me two years ago: ‘Brett, focus on China, that’s where the future is!’ And now the box office in China is surpassing the US Box office.”

RatPac will finance and develop “many, many local Chinese movies” after last year starting a content fund worth hundreds of millions with Warner Bros and China’s powerful Shanghai Media Group.

Ratner is even remaking Bruce Lee classic Enter The Dragon and “developing a theatrical version” for the stage, after Packer’s casino partner Lawrence Ho told him Lee remained “a phenomenon” in Asia. “So we have a show that could be travelling around Asia (and beyond),” Ratner says.

Opportunities are also expanding for RatPac through growing avenues available to content makers via technology. On top of traditional media like cinema, DVD and free TV, other outlets are greedy for content: internet players like Netflix and US pay-TV content makers like HBO.

Ratner says the key is taking “shots” and diversifying risk. “If there are 10 movies, three to four will bomb, three to four will break even, and two will be mega-hits. Gravity, for instance, cost $US100 million and made $US650 million. So you get a lot of shots.” Netflix is “changing the game” by taking out risk for producers, he says.

“If a movie’s cost $30 million, they’ll give you $40 million. You’re just making a huge profit upfront and you don’t have to worry. It’s good and it’s bad. Well, I wouldn’t say it’s bad but if a movie could do $100 million at the box office, then maybe you’re losing some money.”

Ratner’s The Audition — starring Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt, which premiered last week to promote Packer’s Studio City casino in Macau — is the world’s most expensive short film, reputedly costing $100 million, mostly due to the stars’ rumoured eight-figure deals. He says of the film’s set: “It was really cool. Marty had done eight movies with De Niro (and) five with Leo but he had never worked with the two of them together. And Brad had never worked with Marty.”

Ratner sees The Audition as a trailblazer in brand promotion. “It’s where art meets commerce,” he says. “Brands will align themselves with filmmakers. That’s where the future is.”

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