DreamWorks Animation goes Down Under for ‘Larrikin’ tale

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Day and Date Down Under

British-born but Australian-raised Tim Minchin has had a huge success worldwide with the musical Matilda and is currently working on a Broadway musical of Groundhog Day for production next year. The actor, comedian and cabaret performer is also preparing an Australian animated film, Larrikins, for DreamWorks to be released in 2018. He has written nine songs and is adapting a script by Harry Cripps (The Magic Pudding). It concerns a young bilby (a sort of Australian marsupial rabbit; a chocolate version is sometimes sold as an Australian equivalent to chocolate Easter bunnies at Easter) who leaves his burrow and has numerous adventures in the Australian outback. A larrikin is a mischievous person who does not always follow society’s rules and can get into trouble. Minchin will direct the feature and is currently confirming voice talent.

What is a "ute muster" or a "B&S ball"? Both are iconic Australian outback events and feature in the new comedy Spin Out, which started filming in mid-August. The story concerns a couple who have one last night to wake up to their love for each other before they go their separate ways. The film is mainly set during the two events referred to: a ute muster, where hundreds of utility vehicles and their owners come together (prizes are given for dirtiest ute, best-decorated ute, etc.), and a B&S ball, an Australian country tradition, a Bachelors and Spinsters ball bringing together unmarried males and females in the hopes of romance and more. For young farmers, this provides one of the few opportunities for socializing with the opposite sex. Xavier Samuel and Morgan Griffin are the stars of the film…along with the utes.

The oldest surviving cinema in the earthquake city of Christchurch, New Zealand, has been put up for sale. The Hollywood 3 Theatre in the beachside suburb of Sumner will be sold for the first time in 30 years, but the cinema is certain to continue. Operators Lang and Maureen Masters have a five-year lease with renewal options until 2030. The cinema closed for a single day after the major Christchurch earthquake, but was cleared for public use and reopened. It won the Best Independent Cinema award in 2014 and consists of three screens.

Reading has received approval for a new eight-screen complex in Brisbane. Construction is expected to start in the first half of next year for a late 2017 opening. The ground floor will be a retail area.

Shark attacks have been rather prevalent in Australia this year, with an increased number of the film villains seen in waters around the country. Therefore, it makes perfect sense for Columbia Pictures to shoot their new shark drama on the Gold Coast. The Shallows, previously called In the Deep, focuses on a young woman trapped on a buoy 20 meters from the shore with a great white shark circling her. Blake Lively has been announced as the star, with Jaume Collet-Serra directing in November for a mid-2016 release. 

The film will be made on location and at the Village Roadshow studios on the Gold Coast, a studio complex that is to get a new super-stage to increase facilities. The new stage will be built in conjunction with the Queensland Government, who wish to use the stage as a venue for squash competitions during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Modern cities are always looking for sports venues that will not become white elephants after a major sports event, and this seems like a win-win plan for everybody.

It is always great to report on a cinema being saved. The Sawtell Cinema operated from the 1940s until 2013 and its future looked bleak, but local residents set up a fundraising campaign to buy the theatre. They have been successful and the heritage-listed cinema will reopen in December. Not having any experience in running a cinema, the local consortium has contracted with Majestic Cinemas, who operate five cinemas in neighboring towns, to operate it. Sawtell is a small coastal town in northern New South Wales, Australia. One of its main claims to fame is the annual Chilli Festival.

Send your Australia/New Zealand news to David Pearce at insidemovies@hotmail.com.