Australian Cinemas, TV Stations Raise Money for Flood Relief

Participating exhibitors will donate $2 from every movie ticket sold on Jan. 30 to help flood victims.

SYDNEY -- Australia’s film distributors and exhibitors are banding together for a fundraiser to assist victims of the devastating floods that have inundated Queensland since mid-December. 

They said Wednesday they will donate $2 from every cinema ticket sold at participating cinemas around Australia on January 30, in the final week of the lucrative summer holiday period. 

Eighty percent of the funds raised will be donated to the Queensland Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal and 20 percent to the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund.

In that week a number potential Oscar contenders will be released here including Black Swan, The Fighter and True Grit as well as blockbuster The Green Hornet

The fundraiser has the backing of the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia, the National Association of Cinema Owners, the Independent Cinemas Association of Australia and the Australian Independent Distributors Association.

Previous similar fundraising efforts raised $440,000 for the Southeast Asian tsunami in 2005 and the Victorian bushfires nearly two years ago. 

The move comes a week after the central business district of Brisbane, Australia’s third largest city, and its neighbouring suburbs went under water and more than 20 people were killed when what was described as an "inland tsunami" swept through the neighbouring town of Toowoomba. 

Over 1500 homes were inundated in Brisbane while over three-quarters of the state, roughly equalling the size of France and Germany is under water, destroying crops and infrastructure. 

In an otherwise quiet non-TV ratings period, the floods, declared one of the country's worst ever natural disasters, saw four of the five free to air TV networks suspend their regular schedules to cover the flooding live for several days, joining Sky News and the Weather Channel in wall to wall coverage.  

However the production sector appears to have been relatively unscathed. 

Agency Screen Queensland was able to reopen its offices in central Brisbane after one day and is offering assistance to productions needing office facilities.

The agency said its also considering accelerating financial drawdowns on existing funding approvals for projects in need of ready funds to get back on track and is still assessing the full impact of the floods on the production sector. 

The bulk of states production infrastructure is at the Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast, 45 minutes south of Brisbane and that area has received unusually high rainfalls in the past few months, forcing some delays. 

Sources say that the outdoor set for Fox’s sci fi epic, Terra Nova, received heavy rain throughout December and January, but the set remains intact. Production on the pilot finished mid-December – after several days of rain delays – and the series will go back into production in May, well after the wet season has passed. 

New dark sci-fi comedy Iron Sky began filming last week in Brisbane and one days delay was forced due to the rains, while some cast and crew were unable to get to the shoot. However one day was able to be rescheduled at the Roadshow studios.  

And in a case of life imitating art, shooting had recently finished on genre film Bait 3D, about a flooded Gold Coast supermarket where tsunami survivors face a pack of hungry sharks. 

Elsewhere, Australia’s media outlets have been working on significant find raising efforts. The Nine Network led a telethon three days before the Brisbane flood raising $10.3 million, while tennis stars including Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic played a Rally for Relief one day ahead of the start of the Australian Open, broadcast live on the Seven Network and raising $750,000.