Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher.
Every Cloud Productions’ Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears will get a cinema release in the US before premiering on the streaming service Acorn TV.
The SVOD platform also acquired the four Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries telepics, which launch on the Seven Network at 8.30 pm on February 21.
Tony Tilse directed the feature film spin-off of the ABC series and novels by Kerry Greenwood, which stars Essie Davis, Rupert Penry-Jones, Nathan Page, Miriam Margolyes, Jacqueline McKenzie and Ashleigh Cummings.
Acorn TV, which is home to the Miss Fisher series, bought the film sight unseen from the distributor All3Media International and will book US cinemas after the Australian distributor Roadshow sets its release date. It is the first deal for the movie, which is yet to be screened for international buyers.
“It’s a perfect marriage,” Fiona Eagger, who produced the film with Deb Cox, tells IF. “Acorn TV were very keen to buy the film and release it theatrically. They know how to reach the Miss Fisher audience. It’s great to keep the theatrical rights in-house at Acorn.”
The screenplay by Deb Cox follows Davis’ Miss Phryne Fisher as she rescues Shirin Abbas, a young Bedouin girl (Australian newcomer Izabella Yena) from prison in Jerusalem. The sleuth then sets out to unravel a decade-old mystery involving priceless emeralds, ancient curses and the truth behind the disappearance of Shirin’s forgotten tribe.
Brit Penry-Jones is First Lieutenant Jonathon Lofthouse, who carries a heavy guilt after serving in WW1. Daniel Lapaine is Jonathan’s brother Lord ‘Lofty’ Lofthouse, who served as a high-ranking officer in the Palestinian and Sinai campaigns. Jacqueline McKenzie is his devoted wife Lady Eleanor.
Nathan Page returns as Detective Inspector Jack Robinson with Miriam Margolyes as Aunt Prudence and Ashleigh Cummings as her loyal assistant and maid Dorothy ‘Dot’ Collins.
Screen Australia is the film’s principal investor with Film Victoria.
The Ms Fisher series is set in 1960s Melbourne and stars Wanted’s Geraldine Hakewill as Peregrine Fisher, who inherits a windfall when the famous aunt she never knew, Phryne Fisher, goes missing over the highlands of New Guinea.
Joel Jackson is Detective James Steed, a smart, ambitious cop who is instantly attracted to Peregrine and drawn into her mad plans. Catherine McClements is Birdie, an ex-member of WW2 Special Forces who is the president and mastermind of The Adventuresses’ club.
The telemovies were produced by Beth Frey, directed by Fiona Banks and scripted by Cox, Samantha Winston, Chelsea Cassio and Jo Martino.
Owned by RLJ Entertainment, Acorn TV bills itself as North America’s largest streaming service specialising in British and international programming; it charges US subscribers $US4.99 a month or $US49.99 per year.
Don Klees, VP of programming for the Acorn brands at RLJ Entertainment, said: “After first introducing US audiences to the fashionable Miss Phryne Fisher in 2013, Acorn TV is thrilled to work with Every Cloud Productions and All3media on her highly anticipated return in a gorgeous, cinematic film, The Crypt of Tears, as well as introduce audiences to her equally fashionable and entertaining niece Peregrine Fisher in Ms Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries.
“With these new acquisitions as well as Judy Davis’ Mystery Road, Guy Pearce’s Jack Irish and Marta Dusseldorp’s A Place to Call Home, Acorn TV remains a leading destination for bringing US audiences the best in Australian television.”