Nicole Kidman in ‘Destroyer’

Director Karyn Kusama’s genre-bending film noir Destroyer, which stars Nicole Kidman as a haggard, damaged, undercover LAPD detective, will be released by Madman Entertainment.

The relapsed memory/non-linear tale is among a raft of high-profile titles which the distributor has acquired for 2019.

Annapurna Pictures will launch Destroyer, which co-stars Sebastian Stan, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Bradley Whitford, Jade Pettyjohn and Scoot McNairy, in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day, expanding in January.

“It’s a great piece of filmmaking with a remarkable performance by Nicole,” says Madman’s Paul Wiegard, who will launch the thriller on March 21, preceded by screenings at the St George Open Air Cinema in Sydney starting on January 28.

Kidman plays Erin Bell, who as a young cop worked undercover with a gang in the California desert with tragic results. Twenty later, when the leader of the gang re-emerges, she must deal with the gang’s remaining members and the demons that nearly destroyed her.

The $US10 million-budgeted film has been hailed as a likely Oscars contender since the world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Madman has arranged screenings for Australian members of the Academy.

Among Madman’s other recent acquisitions are Vox Lux, Brady Corbet’s musical drama which charts the journey of Natalie Portman’s Celeste from a survivor of a school shooting to a mega pop star, co-starring Jude Law and Christopher Abbott, which opens on February 21; and Free Solo, a feature doc from National Geographic Entertainment (January 24).

Directed by Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the latter chronicles American rock climber Alex Honnold’s attempt to scale Yosemite’s 3,200-foot El Capitan without a rope.

The doc is one of the few to have generated more than $10 million in US cinemas and Wiegard is confident it will gross north of $500,000 here.

John Chester’s The Biggest Little Farm tells the inspiration story of how he and his wife Molly quit Los Angles to move to a place one hour north to pursue their dream of growing every ingredient they could possibly want to cook with.


The 2019 slate includes Damon Gameau’s 2040, his follow-up to That Sugar Film which will open in late May. Produced by Nick Batzias’ Good Thing Productions (which has an ouput deal with Madman), it follows Gameau as he explores what the world might look like by that year if solutions were adopted to tackle issues such as food security, the environment and education.

“Damon has done a terrific job in capturing the key themes and telling a story which talks to both younger and older audiences,” says Wiegard. “It asks: What is your view of the world in 2040?'”

Another high-profile release will be Stephen Johnson’s High Ground, a 1930s-set action-thriller starring Simon Baker, Callan Mulvey, Jack Thompson, Aaron Pedersen and newcomer Jacob Jnr Nayinggul.

Inspired by true events and scripted by Chris Anastassiades, the frontier Western was shot in Kakadu Park and Arnhem Land, produced by Maggie Miles, Yothu Yindi co-founder Witiyana Marika, Johnson, David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin.

Baker plays Travis, a bounty hunter and former soldier who enlists the help of Gutjuk (Nayinggul) a young Aboriginal orphan, to track down the most dangerous outlaw in the Territory – his uncle.

International sales agent Playtime showed some footage to potential buyers at the American Film Market. Wiegard says: “The producers assembled a cracking cast. I’d never seen that landscape before. I think it will be a special experience.”

On February 7 Madman will launch Capernaum, Nadine Labaki’s social realist drama which follows Zain, a young Lebanese boy who must fend for himself on the dangerous streets of Beirut. Seeking respite, he eventually finds it in the home of Rahil, an Ethiopian refugee, and her infant son Yonas.

Winner of the Jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival, it’s been selected as Lebanon’s candidate for the foreign-language Oscar.

Surveying the line-up, Wiegard observes: “There is no such thing as a certainty, but the films we represent play to our strengths and there is a lot of diversity across the slate.”

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