Producer self-distribs ‘Killer’ vs. big pix

Village, Hoyts and Greater Union agree to screen pic

SYDNEY — Distribution deals for Oz pics have become more elusive, even for filmmakers with a track record. Just ask John Brousek, producer of the second-highest-grossing Oz pic last year.

“The Wog Boy,” which starred local TV comic Nick Giannopoulos, reaped A$11.4 million ($5.5 million) locally for 20th Century Fox, but Brousek couldn’t find a distrib for his second project, action-comedy “Sensitive New Age Killer,” which has no stars attached.

Not confident of the pic’s B.O. appeal and facing no lack of product, studios including Fox, Buena Vista Intl. and Roadshow passed on theatrical rights for the project. Fox picked up video. Icon’s Bruce Davey will rep the film for international sales.

Eager to secure TV sales and returns for the pic’s private investors, Brousek set up a distribution shingle and booked “Killer” on 27 multiplex screens.

Village, Hoyts and Greater Union cinemas have agreed to screen “Killer,” which opens in Melbourne and Sydney on May 31 — dubiously sandwiched between BVI’s “Pearl Harbor” and Fox’s “Moulin Rouge.”

“That week we’re claiming as our own,” Brousek says, half joking, but nevertheless hopeful of counterprogramming success.

Village booker Gino Munari is upbeat about pic’s prospects. “We’re putting a lot of effort into it with special screenings and local promotions,” he says.

Hoyts Cinemas G.M. Noel Collier will run 10 prints because he feels obliged to support the local industry and admires Brousek’s enthusiasm. And because, as a multiplex manager, he can afford to mix up his product.

Brousek cut the trailer with director Mark Savage, ordered flyers, posters and cardboard standees featuring pic’s lead, Paul Moder, who plays a frustrated hit man trapped by domestic turmoil.

Duo visited every cinema, met managers and dropped off trailers. They will personally deliver prints ahead of the March 31 release. The $200,000 P&A budget includes latenight TV buys and a newspaper campaign.

Although the timing is hardly fortuitous, the move to self-distribute is neither unprecedented nor doomed to failure. Last year, frustrated helmer Maurice Murphy self-distribbed 15 prints of his wartime romance, “15 Amore.” Six months later, he has recouped costs plus 40% and is so upbeat about the experience that he plans to self-distribute the pic later this year throughout U.S. and U.K.