Miramax jumps ‘Fence’

Mini-major shells out $4 mil for rights to Aboriginal tale

Miramax Films has snared all rights in North and South America, the U.K. and Italy to Phillip Noyce’s “Rabbit-Proof Fence.”

The price tag is reportedly $4 million, which matches the entire budget of the film.

Pic, which is in post, is the first Australian movie to be directed by Noyce since “Dead Calm” in 1987.

It’s based on the heart-wrenching true story of three Aboriginal girls who were taken from their Outback families in 1931 to be trained as domestic servants on the other side of the country, as part of an official Oz government policy to stamp out Aborigine culture.

They escaped and found their way home by following the rabbit-proof fence that ran across Australia, with the authorities in hot pursuit.

Kenneth Branagh stars as Western Australia’s chief protector of Aborgine’s, who devised the repressive policy.

There has been huge buzz around the project since many foreign buyers were reduced to tears by the promo reel screened at the American Film Market in February.

Pic is being sold internationally by HanWay Films, and is exec produced by Jeremy Thomas. The producer and writer is Christine Olsen, with financing from Film Finance Corp., Showtime Australia and the South Australian Film Corp.

The film is adapted from a book by Doris Pilkington, called “Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence.”

Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein said, “I’m especially pleased that Miramax is involved with Phillip Noyce’s next two movies.” Miramax is also distributing Noyce’s “The Quiet American,” which is currently shooting.

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