From the Aussie actors scoring lead roles in US TV programs to the films and TV shows finding new audiences from Poland to Mexico – we check in with our local talent taking on the world.
HBO’s limited series Big Little Lies from David E. Kelley (Boston Legal) starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, and co-produced by Australian Bruna Papandrea, will premiere February 19 in the US. The series is adapted from Australian author Liane Moriarty’s bestselling book of the same name but has shifted the setting from Sydney’s northern beaches to the Californian coastline.
Actor Sam Worthington will star in a new eight part drama series commissioned by the Discovery Channel called Manifesto about an American domestic terrorist and the FBI agent who eventually captured him. Kevin Spacey is executive producing and Paul Bettany will star as the terrorist opposite Worthington’s FBI agent.
Actress Samara Weaving (Mystery Road, Home and Away) has been cast in a new US comedy pilot SMILF for Showtime opposite Ismael Cruz Cordova. The series is based on writer/director/producer Frankie Shaw’s animated short of the same name which won the Short Film Jury Award at Sundance in 2015.
Actress Ellie Gall (Puberty Blues, A Place To Call Home) will star in a modern-day take on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream comedy, reimagined as psychological thriller A Midsummer’s Nightmare. Lifetime have ordered a pilot of the series written by Anthony Jaswinski whose feature The Shallows was recently filmed in Queensland.
Actor Daniel MacPherson (The Shannara Chronicles, Neighbours) will play a lead role in cable network Cinemax’s military action drama series Strike Back, a reboot of the series that originally starred fellow Australian Sullivan Stapleton and concluded after four seasons in July 2015.
Perth-born actor Dacre Montgomery (A Few Less Men) has been cast in the second season of Netflix’s break out hit series Stranger Things in the role of Billy. He will also be seen in the new Power Rangers movie which releases in US theatres March 2017.
Actor Hugo Weaving (Hacksaw Ridge, The Dressmaker) has been on location in Ireland shooting Black 47 alongside veteran actor Jim Broadbent and fellow Australian James Frecheville (Animal Kingdom). The film is set in Ireland and centres on a soldier who returns from fighting for the British Army abroad to find his home country ravaged by the Great Famine of 1845-52.
Assassin’s Creed, the new feature from director Justin Kurzel (Snowtown), has released. Based on the video game franchise of the same name, it hit cinemas mid-December in the US and 1 January 2017 in Australia and so far has grossed AU$206.4M worldwide.
Ridley Scott’s Alien: Covenant, which was filmed in and around Sydney following incentive grants from the federal and NSW governments, will be released worldwide on May 19, 2017.
Sky Deustschland, a German pay TV platform, has acquired all five seasons of the Foxtel prison drama Wentworth from FremantleMedia International. The show has now been sold into more than 140 territories as well as being locally adapted three times for the German, Dutch and Flemish TV markets.
Writer and showrunner Shane Brennan (NCIS: Los Angeles), who spearheaded the Scripted Ink initiative with the Australian Writers’ Guild, is working on a new show for CBS called Here & Now about a Boston homicide detective who develops retrograde amnesia after nearly drowning in an accident.
Australian cinematographer Andrew Strahorn, who hails from regional Queensland, worked on five of the eight episodes of new US TV series Lethal Weapon from Fox, based on the popular films which originally starred Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.
UK youth channel BBC Three has acquired ABC drama Barracuda in addition to new seasons of A Place To Call Home and The Doctor Blake Mysteries, both of which have proven popular with UK audiences. Sue Deeks, Head of Programme Acquisition at the BBC, said “Barracuda is a compelling, complex and emotional drama – beautifully filmed and performed.”
Animated children’s series Winston Steinburger and Sir Dudley Ding Dong, (an Australia/Canada co-production) has made its way onto UK, Poland, the Middle East and North African TV screens. The 52 episodes from the first series aired on POP in the UK in October, on Teletoon in Poland in December, and will air on MBC Group in the Middle East and North Africa from September 2017. eOne is currently in advanced discussions with broadcasters in additional territories including France and details will be announced imminently.
Netflix has acquired the rights to two features ahead of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival: Cate Shortland’s psychological thriller Berlin Syndrome and Kitty Green’s documentary Casting JonBenet. Vertical Entertainment will theatrically distribute Berlin Syndrome in North American before Netflix acquires all rights including streaming; and Casting JonBenet will launch on Netflix in early 2017. Both films will have their world premiere at Sundance which commences January 20 in Utah, and are screening in competition.
Two Australian films have made the shortlist in two categories at the 2017 Academy Awards. Vanuatu-set romance Tanna is among nine shortlisted titles in contention for a Best Foreign Language Film, and The Dressmaker has been shortlisted among seven films for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. The nominations will be revealed January 25, and the awards ceremony will take place February 6.
The inspiring true story of Saroo Brierley depicted in the Garth Davis directed feature Lion continues to win critical acclaim around the world, building momentum for the Academy Awards. It was nominated for four Golden Globes, five BAFTAs and two Screen Actor Guild Awards, and Davis has been recognised with a prestigious Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Feature Film nomination from the Directors’ Guild of America Awards.
Following the critical and commercial success of Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson has signed with Hollywood agency CAA seven years after he was dropped by WME in 2010. The film which scored five BAFTA, three Golden Globe and two Screen Actor Guild Awards nominations has so far grossed US$150M worldwide, including $58.7M in China where it was granted a rare 30-day extension to its Chinese theatrical window.
Supernatural thriller Winchester, the latest film from brothers Peter and Michael Spierig (Predestination), has now sold into 28 territories worldwide including the USA, Canada, European territories including Italy and Scandinavia, and numerous Asian territories. The film will star Helen Mirren and Jason Clarke, and will begin production in Victoria in 2017.
Bruna Papandrea has teamed up with Reese Witherspoon and Naomi Watts to option the rights to Australian book Penguin Bloom based on the real life experiences of the Bloom family and their adopted pet magpie. Watts will star as mother-of-three, Sam Bloom, who is coming to terms with paralysis after a near-fatal accident when the injured chick ‘Penguin’ comes into her life and helps the family to heal.
Three 2015 Australian films have found box office success in multiple international territories. Animated children’s feature Blinky Bill The Movie has been released in 18 territories and grossed AU$3.1M to date, whilst Last Cab to Darwin has been released in three territories around the world and grossed AU$0.7M. Mystery thriller Backtrack starring Adrian Brody was released in 19 territories and has grossed over AU$1.6M – in Mexico alone it grossed just shy of AU$800,000.