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Hugh Jackman, James Mangold Ready for 'The Wolverine' Shoot

Hugh Jackman - P 2012
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Hugh Jackman and Julia Gillard

"The Wolverine" star gave the Australian Prime Minister a personal tour of the action film’s set ahead of the start of production next week.

SYDNEY - What does $12.8 million get you in Australia?

A tour of The Wolverine set with Hugh Jackman and directorJames Mangold as your personal guides, if you’re the Australian Prime Minister.

Jackman, Mangold and Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday announced the start of production on the sequel to X Men Origins; Wolverine, after Jackman had shown Gillard around the art and make up departments and the sets currently under construction.

The $100 million-plus sequel will begin filming at Sydney’s Fox Studios next week.

The Australian shoot for The Wolverine, the story of which is largely set in Japan, is thanks in no small part to a one off federal government grant of $12.8 million, boosting the location tax rebate, which normally sits at 15 percent of a productions qualifying expenditure, to around 30 percent.

And that’s a figure which the industry, including Jackman, are lobbying to see made permanent.

“Hugh’s certainly spoken to me about the importance of this, for getting these big movies, these real blockbusters here in Australia. It is something that Minister Crean is working his way through as he deals with our cultural policy,” Prime Minister Gillard said of the possibility of an increased location offset.

She said that The Wolverine will put $80 million back into the local economy and support around 2000 jobs during the films five month shoot.

Gillard said: “We decided it was a good investment. The NSW Government played its part and I think for our industry – Hugh said to me very consistently as we have walked around, these people with their very special skill sets, they’ve got to work and if we’re not able to provide them with something that holds them in Australia, then they have got to go where they have to go to get work.”

For his part Jackman, also a producer on the film, said he was thrilled to return home to make the film.

“I am so happy to be home, to be shooting a movie of this magnitude here at home is one of the great privileges I have had in my career,” he said.

But Jackman and Mangold wouldn’t be drawn on further casting, or comment on Jessica Biel’s reported withdrawal from the role of mutant villain Viper.

The international cast already includes Will Yun Lee, Brian Tee, Hiroyuki Sanada, Hal Yamanouchi, Rila Fukushima and Tao Okamoto.

"It speaks to the incredible craftsmanship [here] that we can make so much of Japan - feudal Japan, urban Japan, sets - all here on our soundstages in Australia," Mangold said.

And Jackman is keen to add to the Wolverine franchise.

"I have been working for 12 years on the Wolverine character and while the franchise will go well beyond me, it really has been the backbone of my career,” he said, adding that he will hand in his Wolverine claws “when I stop loving it.”

“This one has certainly been the most interesting and complex of the Superhero characters. I do take my career one (step) at a time and I feel like a golfer always looking for that hole in one.'

The Wolverine is slated for release by Fox on July 26, 2013.