Mood buoyant Down Under

Becker consolidates; Imagine ventures into theatrical

SYDNEY — Aussie buyers are cashed-up and ready to rumble — or cool their feet if that’s required.

Icon Australia, Hoyts Distribution and Hopscotch entered the distrib arena over the past 18 months and are settling in. They’re actively scouring markets for everything from niche to mainstream fare.

Becker Entertainment consolidated its three shingles — Dendy, Becker and Globe — for greater efficiency.

And some micro distribbers have stepped up activities. Buoyed by its success with “Donnie Darko,” video distributor Imagine Entertainment is inking more theatrical deals.

Gary Hamilton’s Arclight is co-distributing a handful of films, such as “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” and New Zealand’s Rialto Entertainment is releasing about 12 films a year in Australia.

“The mood is buoyant. There are lots of players, it’s very aggressive,” says Becker’s joint m.d. Andrew Mackie.

But Icon topper Mark Gooder notes, “It’s definitely a buyer’s market in the sense no one’s buying crazily.”

Most key Aussie indie distribs have eschewed the trend toward splitting video and TV rights from theatrical because of their output deals with TV networks and video/DVD distributors.

For foreign pics Oz distributors are paying 2%-3% of budgets, more for local pics — most of which are pre-bought as required by key funder the Film Finance Corp.

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