Nine, Macquarie raise public coin

Companies prime $13 mil for 2 pix, series

SYDNEY — Despite a jittery stock market and slowing Oz economy, the Nine Network and its partner Macquarie Film Corp. have secured funding for two feature films and a third series of top-rated drama “McLeod’s Daughters” from private investors.

The second Macquarie Nine Film and Television Fund, which closed Monday, gives investors a 100% write-off and a minimum return of 55% of their capital over five years.

The fund raised slightly more than the $A20 million ($13 million) minimum set when it launched in April, according to Macquarie Film Corp. chairman Charles Wheeler.

The films are “The Extra,” starring and written by comedian Jimeoin (“The Craic”) and produced by Bruno Charlesworth, Stephen Luby and Mark Ruse; and “You and Your Stupid Mate” from producers Marc Gracie and Bryce Menzies.

“The Extra,” which will mark the feature debut of TV helmer Kevin Carlin, is a romantic comedy about a guy who sees movie stars getting big money and gorgeous girls and asks, “Why not me?”

The other pic, to be directed by Gracie, is a laffer about two friends who find their lives turned upside down when they learn they have to work for the dole, a freeway is going to be built through the middle of their caravan park, and their favorite soap opera is going to be axed.

The films will be distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Nine Films & Television in association with sister company Hoyts Distribution.

“In this difficult climate, I am thrilled that we are able to make these two fantastic films and another season of the much-loved TV series,” said Posie Graeme-Evans, Nine’s director of drama, who will exec produce all three.

The first Nine Macquarie fund raised $15.3 million a year ago to back the second series of “McLeod’s Daughters,” telepic “The Postcard Bandit” and yet-to-be released films “Gettin’ Square” and “Under the Radar.”

Wheeler said it was tougher to secure coin this time because “investors are being more cautious and more conservative,” although there were some repeat investors from the first fund.

Macquarie is looking for other funding sources (probably including the Film Finance Corp.) to top up the budgets of the two films and it will work with the producers to appoint international sales agents.

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