Queensland Cast in the Role of Bali

“Ticket to Paradise” is a “Bali-themed” Hollywood movie set for theatrical release later this year. Starring Academy Award-winning stars Julia Roberts and George Clooney in the lead roles in a romantic comedy set on the island of Bali but filmed entirely in Queensland, Australia, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Geroge Clooney and Julia Roberts

A light-hearted story, the film “takes off” on a Trans-Pacific flight bound for Bali with two divorced parents on board. The estranged parents, played by Clooney and Roberts, trade barbs while plotting how best to derail the upcoming Bali wedding of their daughter Lily to her newfound love, a local Balinese, Gede.

The storyline unfolds as the lead characters, played by Clooney and Roberts, plot and conspire to make sure daughter Lily never marries and repeats the mistake they made 25 years ago.

The film also stars 25-year-old Golden Globe-nominated American actress Kaitlyn Dever in the role of Lily and 29-year-old Indonesian actor Maxime Bouttier as the son-in-law-to-be.

When challenged on why a film with a story background of Bali was shot in Australia, Indonesian Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno told how many production houses have approached his Ministry requesting support for filming in Bali.

Shot between November 2021 and February 2022, the “Ticket to Paradise” production sought Sandiaga’s assistance. “At that time, I told the production house said I was prepared to facilitate the movie in terms of visas and shooting permits. But because of the current condition of COVID-19,I had to follow the decisions of the National COVID Task Force,” explained Sandiaga on Monday, 05 July 2022.

Despite the resulting need to shoot a movie about Bali in a location other than Bali, Sanidaga says Indonesian still benefited from the production that promotes Bali as a tourism destination. Adding: “We profited because Bali was promoted, and our main tourism destination was promoted. Bali needs the boost to Increase tourism numbers.”

The Tourism Minister alluded to the benefits derived by Indonesia for other films using Bali as a location, including the Sony Pictures Production (2010) of “Eat Pray Love” which also starred Julia Roberts. After that film was released, said Sandiaga, the interest in Bali and Ubud as tourism destinations was boosted. “Not long after (the film), tourist visits to Bali, especially the Ubud area, increased sharply. There was keen interest in gastronomy because of supporting events like the Ubud Food Festival.”

The Need for Incentives to Attract Film Projects

Sandiaga admitted that another factor presenting an obstacle to any effort to attract major film productions to Indonesia is the absence of cash incentives sought by major productions to defray the cost of undertaking an overseas project. It is worth noting that many cash incentives provided to production houses are plowed back into the local economy to pay for a wide range of products and services, including security, catering, public order, and cleaning services.

To derive the many financial and promotion benefits brought to a destination by film project, Minister Sandiaga says his Ministry is now focusing on formulating regulations that will provide incentives to foreign production houses desiring to film projects in Indonesia.

“I have already coordinated with the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, insisting that incentives are needed for both local and international production houses, especially those bringing large crews that will positively impact the economy by shooting in Indonesia,” said Sandiaga. The Tourism Minister said the discussion on how to persuade production houses to shoot in Indonesia would be expanded to include the National Film Board (Badan Perfilman Indonesia) in coordination with Regional Film Commissions who have continually promoted Indonesia as a film location.

An Ersatz Bali Romance

Concluding, Sandiaga said: “I hope these incentives can be pursued in conjunction with other collaborative steps so many more international films can come to Indonesia and become a promotional opportunity for the tourism and creative economy sectors.”

“Ticket to Paradise” received a grant of US$4,92 million from the Australian Government. The Australian Government calculated that the production generated 270 jobs and US$36.2 million in revenues for the local economy. Filming was done on the Whitsunday Islands and the Gold Coast near Brisbane. When COVID-19 cases in Queensland spiked in January 2022, the production was temporarily paused until the number of coronavirus cases moderated.

The Universal Pictures Production “Ticket to Paradise” will premiere in Australia on 15 September 20222 and in the United Kingdom on 16 September 2022. The USA premiere will take place on 30 September. 

The film is under consideration for a world premiere at the 79th Venice International Film Festival (31 August – 10 September 2022). 

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