The Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand Tuesday unveiled a slate of nine new Australian original films and series. These represent the company’s biggest wave of local content commissions and acquisitions for Disney+ and will launch on the platform in 2022-23.
The slate includes three scripted drama series: “The Clearing,” “The Artful Dodger,” “Last Days of the Space Age”; four documentary series, “Matildas: The World at Our Feet,” “Shipwreck Hunters Australia,” “Chasing Waves,” “Fearless: The Inside Story of the AFLW”; and two lifestyle and factual general entertainment series “Donna Hay Christmas” and competition format series “What’s Your Toy Story?”
“It was important to us to have that scale to share so we could demonstrate to the marketplace that we are truly serious in this space,” Kylie Watson-Wheeler, senior VP and MD of The Walt Disney Company in Australia and New Zealand told Variety.
She confirmed that Disney is working on 15 other titles local titles. “Our second wave is already taking great shape with many more shows including original concepts from New Zealand. The opportunities are endless particularly in young adult, comedy and rom coms which are audiences love.”
Many of the shows in Tuesday’s first wave will further expand Disney+’s adult-focused Star general entertainment offering. The psychological drama “The Clearing,” is an eight-part series adapted from a J.P. Pomare novel inspired by a real-life Australian cult. It stars Australian actors Teresa Palmer, Miranda Otto and Guy Pearce.
“The Artful Dodger,” a co-production with Sony and produced by Beach Road Pictures and Curio Pictures (formerly Playmaker Media), takes an Australian twist on Charles Dickens’ “Oliver Twist” novel, in which Fagin and the Artful Dodger are transported to Australia in the 1850’s. The cast has yet to be announced.
“Last Days of the Space Age” is an eight-part dramedy set in 1979 Western Australia when a power strike threatens to plunge the region into darkness, while the region hosts the Miss Universe pageant and the U.S. space station, Skylab, crashes to earth. It stars Jesse Spencer (“Chicago Fire,” “House”), Radha Mitchell (“Man on Fire,” “Olympus Has Fallen”), and Deborah Mailman (“The Sapphires,” “Offspring”).