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Comic tunes up new pic

Schuster laffer set for South African release in early 2004

JOHANNESBURG — South African funnyman Leon Schuster, the country’s biggest local B.O. attraction, is going back to his candid-camera format for his new film, “Oh Shucks, I’m Gatvol” (Afrikaans slang for “had enough”).

Ster-Kinekor will distribute the film, which is in pre-production and is tentatively set for a theatrical release in South Africa in the first quarter of 2004.

Schuster broke away from his usual style with his most recent release, “Mr. Bones,” which raked in $3.5 million to make it the second most successful grosser at the South African box office behind international hit “Titanic.”

In “Mr. Bones,” Schuster teamed up with Videovision’s Anand Singh to do a film with a stronger storyline, a bigger cast and bigger budget than usual. He has now gone back to his roots with the signing of the deal with Ster-Kinekor, which was responsible for several of his previous crowd pleasers.

Schuster wrote the screenplay with Gus Silber, and will also star in the film. Andre Scholtz, who has worked on nine previous Schuster films, is producing.

“This project is aimed at the people of South Africa; it’s as indigenous as the word ‘gatvol,’ ” Schuster says.

Ster-Kinekor will handle all rights.

The distrib is counting on Schuster’s wide appeal across racial and class barriers, something more serious local filmmakers, much to the industry’s dismay, have been unable to accomplish.