Kiwi ‘Indian’ travels well

Pic is NZFC's fastest selling since 'Once Were Warriors'

SYDNEY — “The World’s Fastest Indian” is setting a different kind of speed record for the New Zealand Film Commission.

Pic starring Anthony Hopkins as Kiwi motorcycling legend Burt Munro is the fastest-selling film repped internationally by the NZFC since Lee Tamahori’s gritty 1994 drama “Once Were Warriors.”

The commission introduced the project to buyers at last month’s American Film Market, armed only with the script and an interim poster.

“We have sold the film to more than 20 territories, including significant European countries,” says Kathleen Drumm, the NZFC’s head of sales and marketing. “Discussions for North American rights are under way with a range of interested parties.

“The market seems in a mood to respond to the story of a wonderfully original human being who went after his dream.”

Currently shooting in Invercargill on New Zealand’s South Island, pic recounts how in 1962 Munro set out to break the world land speed record on his 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle. His epic journey took him from New Zealand to Utah’s Bonneville salt flats.

It marks a return to New Zealand for helmer Roger Donaldson, whose last Kiwi film was 1981’s “Smash Palace.”

Becker Entertainment has collared the rights for Australia and New Zealand.

Principal investor is Tokyo-based OLC/Rights Entertainment, along with the New Zealand Film Production Fund and the NZFC, in association with 3 Dogs & a Pony.

Charles Hannah, who is partnered in 3 Dogs with “Lord of the Rings” producer Barrie Osborne, Megumi Fukasawa and Satoru Iseki, brought the script to Masaharu Inaba of OLC/Rights Entertainment.

A subsid of Disney theme-park operator Oriental Land Co., OLC/Rights Entertainment was established in May 2003 to develop content for worldwide markets. “World’s Fastest Indian” is its first film. Inaba is a former banker who arranged financing for a raft of indie films including the Hopkins starrer “Howards End.”

OLC/Rights Entertainment is selling the pic in Asia, and Hannah says deals are close to being finalized in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

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