Sony Snaps Up Another Aussie Indie: "Neo Western" Red Hill


We've extolled the merits of Aussie crime drama Animal Kingdom, which was picked up by Sony Pictures Classics after it won the Sundance's World Cinema Jury Prize. Now the distributor -- which in recent years has also taken a chance on Down Under flicks Jindabyne, Gabriel, and Introducing The Dwights -- is to release Red Hill, an antipodean "neo western", despite both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety prognosticating after its Berlinale premiere that the pic would be unlikely to travel far beyond its home shores.

"They can eat those words; they were surely wrong about that one," vindicated first-time writer-director Patrick Hughes told Australia's Encore magazine after the Sony sale. "We made this film independently and it's going to have a life around the world."

Red Hill stars Aussie Ryan Kwanten, whose stocks are rising as the dark-horse star of True Blood, and was produced by Al Clark, best known for Chopper and The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, with Greg McLean of Wolf Creek fame on board as executive producer.

"Hughes has contemporized the revenge western with such style and adrenaline that we jumped at the opportunity to distribute such a bad ass movie," was how Scott Shooman, Sony's VP of Acquisitions and Production, explained the buy.

There's certainly a lot of bad assery evident in the teaser trailer. But also a touch of heavy-handedness that just a dash of Air Supply might offset.

Hughes should be happy that Red Hill's proving the trades wrong. That said, it's still yet to actually reach an audience. Sony's other Aussie pick-ups didn't really make a dent at the US box office. Meanwhile, Australia's most recent western, 2005's exquisite The Proposition, earned just $1.9m stateside, despite strong reviews and a cast that included Guy Pearce, Danny Huston, Emily Watson, John Hurt and Ray Winstone.

Here's hoping this one, which kinda strikes me as Snowy River Country For Old Men, changes those fortunes.