Aussie zombie flick ‘Cargo’ set to become a Netflix Original


By Jackie Keast

Netflix has acquired the worldwide rights to Yolanda Ramke and Ben Howling’s post-apocalyptic debut feature, Cargo, recently shot in South Australia.

Cargo is based on Ramke and Howling’s 2013 Tropfest short of the same name, which has since racked up over 12 million views on YouTube.

According to the initial report in Screen Daily, the deal for the film  which stars Martin Freeman, Susie Porter, Anthony Hayes, Caren Pistorius, David Gulpilil and Simone Landers  was in the multi-million dollar range. Netflix is said to have come on board after seeing a three minute promo.

Umbrella will handle rights outside of the Netflix SVOD window within Australia.

As well as sharing directorial duties with Howling, Ramke also penned Cargo’s screenplay. The film is produced by Causeway Films’ Kristina Ceyton (The Babadook) and Sam Jennings (The Pretend One), alongside Addictive Films’ Russell Ackerman (Hellboy II) and John Schoenfelder. Mark Patterson (Paul Cox’s Force of Destiny) is also producing.

Speaking to IF, Jennings said: “We believe this is the first Australian feature film to be a Netflix Original, which presents an exciting new business model for us. It feels like a perfect fit to be partnering with Netflix in that the directors’ short was a huge hit online and Cargo [has] always been conceived as a sophisticated genre film for an international audience.”

In a statement, Screen Australia’s Graeme Mason said it was hugely significant that Netflix had come on so early with Cargo.

“It’s a vote of confidence in the film, its creative team and Australian storytelling,” said Mason. “It’s clear Australian content is well and truly on Netflix’s radar, with Casting JonBenet and Berlin Syndrome both snapped up before they even premiered at Sundance Film Festival last month. We’re so proud to co-fund Cargo and offer our hearty congratulations to Yolanda Ramke, Ben Howling and team for this incredible commercial win.”

Cargo is financed by Screen Australia in association with South Australian Film Corporation, Screen NSW and Head Gear Films/Metrol Technology with Bankside Films handling international sales rights.