U.K.’s C4 inks for Oz pix

SYDNEY — Just one month after vowing to become a player in Australian movies, Britain’s Channel 4 has inked a first-look deal with the Australian Film Commission.

The pact provides the U.K. web with a first look for all U.K. rights — including theatrical — of five pics, budgeted at A$1 million ($700,000) each.

The first pic from the deal is “Fresh Air,” a comedy about inner city denizens with artistic aspirations written by Neil Mansfield, who’ll also direct. Producer is Rosemary Blight, who is currently producing the Brenda Blethyn starrer “In the Winter Dark.” Helmer Bill Bennett, who unveiled the pact Monday, is acting as a mentor to the duo.

Last month, Channel 4 formed its first international co-financing alliance with Showtime. That deal provides for the duo to provide pre-sale financing in conjunction with other partners on a pic-by-pic basis.

So far, Channel 4 has committed to “Passion,” a bio-pic on Oz composer-pianist Percy Grainger from “Breaker Morant” producer Matt Carroll and federal funding body the Film Finance Corp.

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