Disney reveals nine Australian streaming commissions amid quota fight

Disney Australia has announced nine Australian commissions, including shows that feature some of the biggest local stars.

Two and a half years after its launch, the Disney streaming service launched its first Australian series. The list includes three scripted shows, two life series and four documentaries.


Programs feature prominent Australian talent including Miranda Otto, Guy Pearce, Deborah Mailman, Teresa Palmer, Jesse Spencer and Radha Mitchell, Rove McManus and Donna Hay, while documentaries will focus on the Matildas and AFLW.


Clearing: An eight-episode series written by real-life Australian cult The Family and its founder Anne Hamilton-Byrne. It’s a psychological thriller that follows a woman who must confront her past in order to stop a cult’s master plan. It stars Teresa Palmer, Miranda Otto, Guy Pearce and Hazem Shammas.

Skilled Dodger: The eight-episode drama follows two characters from a Charles Dickens novel. Oliver Twist, Fagin and the Artful Dodger 15 years after they were sent to Australia as convicts. The series promises high-octane heists and medical dramas, as well as a story of love and redemption. The cast has yet to be announced, but writers include Andrew Knight, James McNamara and Miranda Tapsell.

Last days of the space age: The dramedy is set in Perth and follows a series of events including the 1979 strike, the Miss Universe pageant, and the crash landing of the Skylab space station on the outskirts of the city. At the center of it are three fictional families whose lives are about to turn upside down. The series stars Jesse Spencer, Radha Mitchell, Deborah Mailman and Lin-Dan Pham.


What is your toy story? Hosted by Rove McManus, What’s Your Toy Story is a reality show featuring teams of kids and adults who are tasked with bringing their own toy stories to life.

Donna Hay Christmas: Renowned Australian culinary specialist Donna Hay hosts a four-part program celebrating the unique culture of the Australian Christmas. The action of the series takes place against the backdrop of the beautiful Sydney Avalon.


Matilda: The world is at our feet: Documentary series following famous Australian football players including Sam Kerr, Ellie Carpenter and Mary Fowler on their way to the 2023 FIFA World Cup. Filmed around the world, including at the Tokyo Olympics, the project will focus on issues such as pay equity, sisterhood and the resilience of professional athletes.

Shipwreck Hunters Australia: A team of sea adventurers dive off the coast of Western Australia in an area with 1,600 shipwrecks in search of forgotten stories.

Chasing Waves: This series focuses on Japan’s influence on the world’s surf culture. It features Japanese-Australian surfer Connor O’Leary.

Fearless: AFLW’s Inside Story: A documentary series focusing on one of Australia’s newest sports leagues gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look.

Disney also hinted at what other orders could be in development, indicating that more games are in various stages of development and listing opportunities in the young adult, comedy, and romantic comedy genres.

Disney’s investment comes as pressure mounts to impose a government-mandated quota on international streaming services. The quota system would require companies like Disney, Netflix and Amazon to spend a portion of their Australian income on local production.

Industry stakeholders, including a campaign led by actors Simon Baker and Bryan Brown, and lobbying group Screen Producers Australia, have previously campaigned for a 20 percent quota.

Baker said during a speech to federal parliament in 2021: “It’s very good that foreign companies are coming in and studios are spending a lot of money here. It’s great for our crews, it’s great for our economy. But it’s a sugar hit.

“What we need to do is help develop a richer, stronger and more powerful Australian voice.”

Baker was referring to the influx of Hollywood films into Australia during the pandemic. Many of the productions that have been filmed in Australia over the past few years have used local cast and crew but told stories set elsewhere, including Netflix shows. clickbait and Parts of Her.

At a showcase event in Sydney, Disney senior vice president and managing director of the Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand, Kylie Watson-Wheeler, specifically linked the list of new titles to why the government should not set a quota.

“The commitment we show as we commission our local facilities underpins a solid foundation of long-term relationships,” she said. “We work with content creators in Australia and New Zealand, as well as the industry at large, without the need for quotas or other regulatory interventions.”

Disney, Netflix, Stan and Amazon jointly submitted a joint application to the federal government in 2020 against any quota system.

The government body of the Australian Communications and Media Authority published a report in late 2021 detailing how streaming services spent $178.9 million on Australian programming in 2020-2021 and another $450 million on Australia-related programs .

Australia-related programming includes shows made here but not necessarily telling Australian stories or whose producers and lead creatives are not Australian.

In February, the Morrison government proposed a scheme that effectively encouraged only 5 percent investment in local production.

Last week, by unveiling its arts policy on the campaign trail, Labor will not take on an investment quota, but will only work with stakeholders to promote Australian content.

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