NBCU to Shoot 'Joe Exotic,' 'Young Rock' in Australia

Pearlena Igbokwe
Getty Images

Pearlena Igbokwe

"This initiative encapsulates all of the goals we had in mind when we aligned the three studios – Universal Television, UCP and NBCUniversal International Studios – under the Universal Studio Group umbrella,” says Pearlena Igbokwe, chairman, Universal Studio Group.

Comcast-owned NBCUniversal's Universal Studio Group said Monday it has committed to shooting three TV productions – Joe Exotic, Young Rock and Irreverent – in Australia over the next 18 months.

The productions will take place at Screen Queensland Studios in Brisbane, as well as surrounding locations in South East Queensland and Far North Queensland. "The plan leverages resources from across the three NBCUniversal television studios that are housed under the Universal Studio Group umbrella, including the production infrastructure which will be overseen by leading Australian production company Matchbox Pictures," the company said.

"This initiative encapsulates all of the goals we had in mind when we aligned the three studios – Universal Television, UCP and NBCUniversal International Studios – under the Universal Studio Group umbrella,” said Pearlena Igbokwe, chairman, Universal Studio Group. "Not only are we leveraging shared resources and utilizing talent across our three businesses, we are also partnering with the Australian government and Screen Queensland to make a significant investment in our global community and significantly upgrade the studio infrastructure in Brisbane."

The projects will get to tap into production incentives. The studio group said it "secured a significant tax credit by combining production resources on the three titles."

Said Australia's Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher: "This demonstrates international confidence in Australia’s world-class production sector and reinforces our country’s great appeal as a COVID-safe location that boasts high caliber facilities and expertise. This pipeline of exciting projects from the Universal Studio Group team has been made possible through our government’s Location Incentive program and showcases the best that Australia’s screen sector has to offer."

Added the Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk: "Bringing these three high-end television series, as part of my government’s Production Attraction Strategy, will provide a multi-million dollar boost to Queensland’s economy and create not only jobs for our talented TV/film workforce, but also a ripple effect that will benefit numerous industries, including hospitality, tourism, transport and logistics."

It is estimated that the productions, operating under strict COVID-19 safety guidelines, will contribute at least $103 million to the Australian economy and creative sector. More than 3,500 local cast and crew will be employed.

Young Rock from Universal Television comes from Nahnatchka Khan and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and is a single-camera comedy inspired by Johnson himself. It is being produced for NBC.

Joe Exotic from UCP will span three of NBCUniversal’s distribution platforms – Peacock, NBC and USA. Based on the Wondery Podcast of the same name, it is planned as a limited series and is based on true events. Big-cat enthusiast Carole Baskin, to be played by Kate McKinnon, learns that fellow exotic animal lover Joe "Exotic" Schreibvogel is breeding and using his big cats for profit, so she sets out to shut down his venture. But Carole has a checkered past of her own, and when the claws come out, Joe will stop at nothing to expose what he sees as her hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, Irreverent is a 10-part series developed and produced by NBCUniversal International Studios’ Matchbox Pictures. It follows a criminal from Brooklyn who flees to a reef town in Far North Queensland, posing as the new church reverend.

NBCUniversal Global Distribution will be handling international sales for all three titles.