Pic backed by coin from Screen Australia

“Avatar’s” Sam Worthington will return to his native Australia to topline “Drift,” a drama set in the surfing world and backed by coin from promo org Screen Australia and the Western Australian government.

Pic, budgeted at $11.3 million, will be co-directed by Morgan O’Neill and Ben Nott from O’Neill’s screenplay.

Feature will be produced by Tim Duffy and co-star Myles Pollard of Venice, Calif.-based World Wide Mind Films and Michele Bennett and exec produced by Joan Peters.

Set in 1972, “Drift” centers on brothers who start a new life in a remote Australian coastal town.

There they contend with suspicious locals and ruthless bikers as they struggle to kick-start a business from their greatest passion — surfing.

Hopscotch Films will distribute “Drift” in Australia; TF1 will handle worldwide sales.

“?’Drift’ combines serious Australian talent both in front of and behind the camera,” said acting Screen Australia topper Fiona Cameron.

Screen Australia also announced it had put coin into indigenous coming-of-age drama “Satellite Boy,” helmed and written by Catriona McKenzie.

(Bobbie Whiteman in Hollywood contributed to this report.)

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