VRP reaches for the stars

28 August, 2013 by Don Groves

Village Roadshow Pictures is backing films starring Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall, Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, Will Smith and Richard Armitage.

The Los Angeles-based production arm of Village Roadshow Ltd is ramping up its slate from 3-4 films per year to 6-9. Most are co-productions with Warner Bros. VRL gave an update on VRP’s slate when it announced its annual results last week.


Hemsworth is attached to star in In the Heart of the Sea, director Ron Howard’s adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick high-seas drama which inspired Melville’s Moby Dick. Principal photography starts in the UK on September 10, chronicling the fate of the crew of the Whale ship Essex which was attacked by a sperm whale in 1820, leaving the crew adrift for 90 days and forced to turn to cannibalism.

Downey plays a successful attorney who returns to his hometown for his mother's funeral and discovers his estranged father (Duvall), the town's judge, is suspected of murder, in David Dobkin’s The Judge. Vera Farmiga plays a waitress who has never left small-town life and has a history with Downey's character. The film is due to open in the US and Australia in October 2014, positioned for the awards season in the US.

UK actor Armitage, who plays Thorin Oakenshield in the next two chapters of The Hobbit, is the lead in Into the Storm, director Steven Quale’s thriller about a group of high school students who document the events and aftermath of a devastating tornado. The cast includes Sarah Wayne Callies, Jeremy Sumpter and Alycia Debman.

VRP is also co-producing Doug Liman’s thriller Edge of Tomorrow, starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt and Bill Paxton; George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road (Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy); the Wachowski siblings’ Jupiter Ascending (Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis); the CGI animated The LEGO Movie (voiced by Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell and Elizabeth Banks); and Akiva Goldsman’s fantasy Winter’s Tale (Colin Ferrell, Russell Crowe, Will Smith).

VRP/WB’s The Great Gatsby has raked in $US331 million at cinemas worldwide, with China still to open on August 30.

VRL also revealed Roadshow Films had a 25.5% share of the Australian theatrical market and 15.5% of the DVD/Blu-ray market in the year ending June 30.