Oz producer parlays flop into funding

SYDNEY — Aussie producer Lynda House (“Muriel’s Wedding,”) sure does have an excellent sense of timing.

On the same day official figures came in for the opening weekend of House’s B.O. flop “River Street,” premier film-funding agency the Film Finance Corp. (FFC) agreed to back her new project, a religious murder-mystery called “The Missing.”

Coincidentally, House was recently appointed to the board of the FFC for a three-year term and made her first appearance at the same July 23 board meeting where her funding was approved. (She did, however, leave the room when coin for “The Missing” was discussed.)

Defending the agency’s decision, newly appointed FFC topper Catronia Hughes told Daily Variety, “She’s a respected and active producer and I think, in aggregate, she has an extremely fine track record.” The FFC provides the lion’s share of many pics’ budgets (Oz average: $2.5 million) on the condition that pics tie up distribution guarantees — the FFC expects a commercial return on its investments

Major Oz distrib Roadshow, which released “River Street” to a miserable A$43,223 ($31,985) from 22 screens, seems to have no qualms; it’s listed as the domestic distrib for “The Missing.” But Ciby, the sales agent for “River Street,” has yet to sign on the dotted line.

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