Director Robert Connolly (“Balibo”) and star Eric Bana (“Hanna,” “Hulk), both currently riding high at the Australian box office with “The Dry,” will reunite on “Blueback,” a film billed as a family-friendly, ecologically activist celebration of the natural world.
Connolly has been developing the project for more than two decades. At one stage it was envisaged that actor-director Rowan Woods (“The Boys”) would direct the adaptation.
The film is now moving into production with filming set in two of the remotest places on the continent: Bremer Bay and Ningaloo Reef, in West Australia. Roadshow Films will release the picture in Australia and New Zealand, and the U.K.’s HanWay Films will handle rights sales in all other territories.
The film is adapted by Connolly from Booker Prize nominee Tim Winton’s critically acclaimed novella of the same name. The story focuses on a girl who befriends a wild blue groper while diving. When she learns that the fish is under threat, she takes inspiration from her activist mother and takes on poachers to save her friend. That begins her life-long journey to save the world’s coral reefs.
The film also stars Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Crimson Peak”), Radha Mitchell (“London Has Fallen,” “Pitch Black”). Ariel Donoghue and Ilsa Fogg will make their feature film debuts playing younger versions of Waskiowska’s character. The supporting cast includes Liz Alexander (“The Secret She Keeps”) as older Dora, Kenyan-Australian newcomer Albert Mwangi and Clarence Ryan (“Cleverman”).
The production will use a combination of state-of-the-art animatronic puppetry created by Creature Technology Company (“King Kong: Alive on Broadway” and arena show “How To Train Your Dragon”) with CG by Soundfirm (“Peter Rabbit,” Connolly’s “Paper Planes”) in Melbourne. Documentary elements will be captured by a specialized team of underwater camera operators who have experience on major features and documentary series including “Blue Planet.”
The film is as Arenamedia production with principal production investment from the Western Australian Regional Film Fund, supported by Royalties for Regions, and is also financed by federal film body Screen Australia with support from Screenwest, Lotterywest and Film Victoria.
Crime drama “The Dry” was released in Australian on Jan. 1 and has grossed close to A$20 million ($15.5 million) to date.