International buyers pounce on Aussie shark thriller ‘Great White’

29 May, 2018 by Don Groves

The appetite among distributors around the world for genre films centered on sharks and other predators seems insatiable.

How else to explain pre-sales to more than a dozen territories for producer Michael Robertson’s Great White that were signed at the Cannes Film Market – even before any cast is attached?


The deals negotiated by UK-based Altitude Film Sales are worth more than $US1 million and don’t include Germany, France, the UK and the US, Robertson tells IF. “We are holding off on those territories in anticipation of getting something bigger and better,” he said.

TVCs director Martin Wilson will make his feature directing debut on Great White, which will follow five passengers who are stranded on a seaplane far from shore and try to make it to land before they either run out of supplies or are devoured by sharks.

Michael Boughen, the co-writer of Dying Breed and producer of Killer Elite and the TV series Tomorrow, When the War Began, wrote the screenplay.

Robertson will produce with Neal Kingston, with whom he is also collaborating on Andrew Traucki’s Black Water: Abyss, the sequel to the 2007 survival horror/thriller Back Water, and with Chris Veerhuis, co-producer on Simon Baker’s Breath.

He is confident of raising the $5 million-plus budget from pre-sales, the Producer Offset, a state agency contribution, private equity and an advance from an Australian distributor which is yet to be determined.

The buyers include Japan’s CCC, Korea’s Joy N Cinema, Hong Kong’s Intercontinental, Taiwan’s Deepjoy, India’s MVP, China’s Infotainment, Italy’s Adler, Spain’s A Contracorriente, Switzerland’s Impuls and the CIS’s Volga.

Golden Screen bought the rights for Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. PT Prima (Indonesia) and Gulf (Middle East) also stepped up.

Shooting is expected to start in the first quarter of 2019 with an Australian cast, which may include a US-based female lead.

Scripted by Sarah Smith and Ian John Ridley, Black Water: Abyss follows a young, adventure-loving couple who convince their friends to explore a remote, uncharted cave system in the forests of Northern Australia, where they are attacked by crocodiles. Altitude Film Sales concluded numerous deals on that film at the European Film Market.

Filming is due to start in Queensland in September, supported by Screen Queensland. Universal Pictures will distribute in Australia. Robert Slaviero is the executive producer on both projects.

Now Robertson is assembling a team of writers to hatch more genre projects, using the same financing formula.