Hugh Jackman talks pic leak, tax incentives

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SYDNEY -- The Australian government needs to increase the nation's rebate for foreign film production if the country is to remain competitive as a filming destination, Hugh Jackman said Wednesday.

The government's current 15% location rebate "doesn't feel very competitive internationally," Jackman said at a Sydney screening of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" footage, adding that he fears work in Australia will slow down "when you've got places like New York City offering a 35% rebate."

However, he said that, in the current climate, "with a lot of sectors and a lot of businesses clamoring for help from the government ... I think that, if the Australian government is going to concentrate on anything to be able to win the film business, it's doing exactly what's needed and supporting Australian film first."

As a producer on "Wolverine," Jackman was instrumental in having the bulk of the film shot in Australia. The film attracted the 15% Aussie location rebate, but it did not qualify as an Australian film, which would have yielded a 40% producer tax offset.

The offset, he said, makes it an "important and exciting time for Australian film and the next three to four years will be critical for the development of the Australian film industry." However, the next installment in the Wolverine saga may not be made here.

"Since 'X-Men 2' there've been talks and I've been pretty public about my desire to go to Japan. The Japanese saga is very cool," he said.

Jackman kicked off the marketing for 20th Century Fox's summer tentpole release at the Sydney event in spectacular fashion, flying into Cockatoo Island, where much of the film was shot, before screening 20 minutes of finished footage to media and several hundred fans. He said it was heartbreaking to see an unfinished copy of the film leaked on the Internet last week.

"It's a serious crime, and there's no doubt it's very disappointing. I was heartbroken by it," Jackman said. "Obviously, people are seeing an unfinished film. It's like a Ferrari without a paint job." He added that he was heartened that about 95% of the online community condemned the leak and said was confident that the culprit will be caught.

"The FBI are onto it, and they're taking it very, very seriously," he said.
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