Screen News in Brief: Cinemas Open and Distributors start Dating

Some Australian films slot into schedule, the Senate passes call for local content obligations on streamers, and much more in our fortnightly wrap.

Cinemas Open

  • From June 22 most indoor cinemas will be open, albeit with physical distancing, crowd control regimes and lots of hand sanitiser being squirted around.
  • Drive-ins and selected venues in some States have been open a while.
  • Cinemas are now spruiking their most crowd-friendly fare as well as some smaller titles. A very weird box office report earlier this week tells the story, with The Invisible Man returning, and Dirty Dancing and Clueless doing well on limited screens.
  • The classics strategy is pursued by single screen theatres like Melbourne’s Astor, whose July calendar features macho fan favorites like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner and the widescreen pleasures of Dunkirk. Meanwhile, Classic, Lido and Cameo Cinemas are promising more romantic golden-era classics like Casablanca, Singin’ in the Rain and West Side Story
  • The first Australian film to be released in theatres as restrictions ease is family fantasy adventure The Legend of the Five on 25 June, just in time for school holidays, and distributed by Filmink Presents. The directing debut of Mad Max’s Joanne Samuel, and starring The Conjuring 2’s Lauren Esposito, it’s a PG-rated story about ‘a group of misfit teenagers who encounter an ancient relic on a school trip’.
  • Ben Lawrence’s Hearts and Bones, starring Hugo Weaving, was released online by Madman during lockdown, but it’s now getting some theatrical screenings too.
  • Kriv Stenders’ Peter Brock documentary, Brock: Over the Top, gets an outing at Queensland’s Yatala Drive-In (Mon 23, Tues 24 and Wed 25 June). Stenders’ other documentary project, the Slim dusty biopic Slim and I, will be released on 20 August. Both are distributed by Universal.
  • Universal will also release Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth on 23 July.

Distributors get Dating

  • Stan have announced that Natalie Erika James’ horror thriller Relic, starring Emily Mortimer, Robyn Nevin and Bella Heathcote will release on the streaming platform on Friday 10 July. Relic was co-written with Christian White, and explores the ghosts of Alzheimers disease. It premiered in the Midnight section at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and boasts a 100 per cent score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Relic is co-produced by Carver Films’ Anna McLeish and Sarah Shaw (PartisanSnowtown), and Nine Stories’ Jake Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker, with the Russo Brothers’ (Avengers: Endgame) AGBO executive producing.
  • Sony have released a distribution schedule too, with locally made Peter Rabbit 2 locked in for Boxing Day. The distributor is going with some arty international titles in July: Natalie Kinsky’s romantic comedy, The Broken Hearts Gallery (16 July); and Guiseppe Capatonidis’ art drama, The Burnt Orange Heresy, starring Elizabeth Debicki and Claes Bang (23 July).
  • Sony’s next films off the rank are big ones for September: Monster Hunter (the fantasy action thriller based on a game); and animated family comedy about a tech conspiracy, Connected, from the producer of Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse and The Lego Movie.
  • You know arthouse cinemas are back when the Alliance Francaise French Film Festival announces its return. It will run from Bastille Day, 14 July, until 4 August, at Palace Cinemas and associated venues across seven cities.
  • Unconfirmed rumours date Christopher Nolan’s Tenet (Roadshow) on 16 July. Whether and when this much-anticipated tentpole picture gets released will reveal much about the real state of things.

Read more: Just Hit Send: An interview with Christian White

Netflix in the News


  • A third season of the Logie-winning animated kids series Little J and Big Cuz is in pre-production for NITV and ABC Kids and will air in 2021. The series is based on an Indigenous perspective on the Early Years Learning Framework, has been translated into 11 different Indigenous languages. Produced by Ned Lander Media, Media World and Blue Rocket, this season sees director Tony Thorne join the writing team, together with short fiction writer Adam Thompson, Dot West, Erica Glynn, Beck Cole, Danielle MacLean and Sam Paynter. The voice cast includes Deborah Mailman, Miranda Tapsell, Aaron Fa’oaso, Ursula Yovich, Renee Lim and Shari Sebbens.
  • As reported in Variety, Kim Mordaunt (The Rocket, Bomb Harvest) is bringing his deep knowledge of the bomb disposal world in Asia to his new feature Wildlands, a thriller to be filmed on location in Africa. Actor Matthias Schoenarts (Rust & Bone) will star as a bomb disposal expert in the film scripted by Mordant and John Collee (Hotel Mumbai), and developed by Mordaunt and Sylvia Wilczynski’s Red Lamp Films with the assistance of Screen Australia. Tom Hardy and Dean Baker of Hardy Son & Baker will also produce. ‘HanWay Films has acquired worldwide sales rights and will begin shopping the film at next week’s Cannes virtual market.’

Film Festivals Roll On

  • The Sydney Film Festival virtual edition has been going strong. Tonight at 6pm, the virtual red carpet rolls out for the 67th Sydney Film Festival Awards Ceremony and you can watch it free online, to see who wins the $10,000 Documentary Australia Foundation Prize for best Australian doco and the prestigious Dendy Short Film Awards.
  • Women on Top: Adrian Martin’s Sydney Film Festival Highlights.
  • Robust, Relevant and Diverse: Documentaries at Sydney Film Festival. Glenn Dunks surveyed the 10 Australian films up for the prize and found them to be quietly effective in exploring specific worlds.
  • The 2020 St Kilda Film Festival is currently underway with its online edition meaning films and sessions are available nationally this time. All the nominees can be found and viewed here. They include the five films up for Best Short Film: The Egg, directed by Jane Cho; Bright Lights – The Perils of the Pokies, directed by Charby Ibrahim; Rebooted, directed by Michael Shanks; The Sand that Ate the Sea, directed by Matthew Thorne; and I Want to Make a Film about Women, directed by Karen Pearlman. The winners will be announced at 9am on Saturday morning.

Moves & Shakes

  • Russel Howcroft has been re-appointed for a second three-year term as council chair of the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), while Fremantle Asia-Pacific CEO Chris Oliver-Taylor has joined the council.
  • Porchlight Films shuts shop. This key Sydney-based company, woven into the careers of so many screen people, has left the fray.
  • Hardball wins international kids’s TV Award.

Read more: Can we out-compete the world in production hunt? 

Reviews Wrap

About the Author
ScreenHub​ is the online home for emerging and experienced Australian screen professionals.