Cannes: Sam Neill, Julian Dennison Join Taika Waititi’s ‘Wilderpeople’

Sam Neill and young “Paper Planes” star Julian Dennison have joined the cast of “Hunt For the Wilderpeople,” which is directed by hot New Zealand director Taika Waititi, who scored an international hit with “What We Do in the Shadows.”

The comic adventure movie starts shooting next week in New Zealand. Madman Entertainment has acquired all rights to the film for Australia and New Zealand, and will release in NZ in partnership with the producers. Protagonist Pictures has taken on international sales rights.

Dennison plays a defiant young city kid who finds himself on the run with his cantankerous foster uncle (Neill) in the wild New Zealand bush. A national manhunt ensues and the two are forced to put aside their differences and work together to survive.

Taika Waititi is one of the most exciting filmmakers in the world,” said Protagonist CEO Mike Goodridge. “His natural talent for warm comedy as witnessed in his three feature films ‘Eagle Vs Shark,’ ‘Boy’ and ‘What We Do in the Shadows’ is even further demonstrated in this wonderful and winning new movie. We think this is the film that will take him to the next level on the world stage.”

“Taika’s adaptation has infused this adventure tale with fun to play to a broad audience. We are thrilled to be involved,” said Madman managing director Paul Wiegard.

Waititi has also written the screenplay for “Hunt for the Wilderpeople,” which is based on the book “Wild Pork and Watercress’ by NZ author Barry Crump. He is also producing alongside Carthew Neal, Leanne Saunders and Matt Noonan. The film is a Defender Films and Piki Films and Curious production.

It is being produced with investment from the New Zealand Film Commission, Curious, James Wallace Productions Ltd and with the assistance of the New Zealand government’s Screen Production Grant with financing by Kiwibank.

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