Paul Hogan launched his new film, “Lightning Jack,” to the Australian investment community Monday. Budgeted at $ A35 million ($ 24 million), it’s not only the costliest film ever to come out of Oz, it’s also the first to use a finance structure that will see the film traded on the stock exchange.
Flanked by producer Greg Coote, prexy of Village Roadshow Pictures, which is coproducing with Hogan’s company Lightning Ridge Films, and finance mavens from Morgans brokerage, Hogan told the press the film was “a big-budget outdoor adventure comedy,” a sort of “Crocodile Dundee Goes West” that had less romance than “Dundee” but was funnier.
Simon Wincer will direct the Hogan-penned Western, which will primarily be shot in the United States; post-production and interiors will be done Down Under.
No other casting has been announced. Shooting is skedded to begin Aug. 9.
Hogan said he sidestepped U.S. studio backing because direct control of ownership and content were of “utmost importance.” However, he added, if Frank Mancuso were still head of Par there might have been involvement.
He added no presales had been accepted so as not to undersell the film. However, Coote said it “could be” that Warner Bros. might be expected to have a look-in given its strong relationship with Village.
Roadshow Film Distributors has Australasian rights; CAA is marketing the film internationally.
“Lightning Jack” relies on the little used tax concession known as 10B, which offers a deduction on investment over two years. Importantly, it has less stringent local content and residency requirements than the widespread 10BA concession, which means Hogan can shoot extensively in the U.S. with a largely U.S. cast.
Under the deal, a unit trust will be set up, with each investor able to buy in at $ A1 (69 cents) a unit; the trust will lodge with the Aussie Stock Exchange, and units will be able to be traded as shares. Hogan believes this is a world first.
Roadshow and Hogan are major investors, accounting for around one third of the budget. Investors in “Crocodile Dundee” (who have seen a return of up to 10 or 11 times their investment) will be given preferential treatment.