Indonesia’s Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno has leapt to the defense of an upcoming romantic comedy flick starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, Ticket to Paradise, which was shot in Australia despite telling the story of a divorced couple who fly to Bali to sabotage their daughter’s wedding.
The fact that the film wasn’t actually shot on the Island of Gods drew criticism in Indonesia, but Sandiaga said yesterday that the film being shot down under was not by design.
In his weekly press briefing, Sandiaga said that the production team of Ticket to Paradise was among several other production studios that approached his department to facilitate the movie’s principal photography in Bali.
While Sandiaga did not specify any exact dates, he confirmed that the request was made at the peak of the COVID-19 crisis in Indonesia and strict social restriction measures (locally known as PPKM) at the time.
“I said that when it comes to facilitating visa relaxations and easing shooting permissions, we would be able to [help]. But when it comes to COVID-19, we have to follow the rules from the COVID-19 Task Force,” he said.
Ultimately, Ticket to Paradise was filmed on an island in Queensland, Australia from November last year to February.
Even so, Sandiaga said that Indonesia could still gain some benefit from the movie, which is set to be released in October, arguing that positive images associated with the magical island can help to boost tourism. Bali’s tourism-dependent economy was devastated during the pandemic, but the island is showing signs of revival after it reopened to international tourists earlier this year.
“As an example, Eat, Pray, Love (another film also starring Roberts), was filmed in Ubud, Bali [and released] in 2010 and was successfully screened across the world. Not long after that, tourism visits in Bali, especially Ubud, rose significantly,” the minister added.
Sandiaga also pointed out that Ticket to Paradise’s production team likely had other considerations for budget efficiency, especially with the struggles of shooting a movie during the pandemic.