Odin’s Eye Animation is launching Wheely, a computer-animated action comedy produced by South-East Asia’s Kartun Studios in Australian cinemas next month, kicking off a plan to release three to four titles each year.

The initiative by the sister company of Odin’s Eye Entertainment is counter-cyclical while most indie distributors are trimming their release slates.

“We’ve found there is room in the marketplace for a strategy such as ours,” says Martin Gallery, Odin’s Eye Entertainment head of international sales and distribution.

“We’re focusing on super-commercial, studio quality animated features. The only way audiences would notice they’re indie films would be the lack of a major studio’s logo at the start. No one cares how the film was financed as long as it’s polished, accessible and tells a good, fast-paced story. We do our research and only acquire titles that are as close as possible to a no-brainer. It’s all in the acquisition.”

The strategy involves co-acquiring films with a home entertainment partner such as Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Umbrella Entertainment, and releasing titles exclusively through Event Cinemas and Village Cinemas.

As alternate content releases those films can be programmed more flexibly and there is a shorter window to VOD and DVD/Blu-ray.

Wheely, which was jointly acquired with Umbrella, will play on 80 screens, opening on November 8 at Village Cinemas in Victoria and a week later in the rest of the country at Event Cinemas and Greater Union.

Directed by Yusry Abdul Halim, the action comedy follows an underdog cabbie who falls “head-over-wheels” over Bella, a supermodel from the upper echelons of society. To make things worse, she’s got a boyfriend and he’s faced with an even bigger problem when Bella is car-napped by a global syndicate masterminded by Kaiser, an 18-wheeler truck. The production involved multiple nationalities from Malaysia, the US, the UK, China and India.

This is Odin’s Eye’s second theatrical release in the past 12 months following Russian animated adventure Snow Queen: Fire And Ice.

Founded by Michael Favelle in 2006, Odin’s Eye Entertainment is handling international sales on numerous titles including The Furies, the first fruit of its collaboration with Screen ACT’s Accelerator POD development program.

Writer-director Tony D’Aquino’s debut feature is a female-driven survival thriller starring Airlie Dodds, Danielle Horvat, Linda Ngo and Taylor Ferguson and will have its first market screenings at the American Film Market.

The slate includes Rob Gibbs’ Hump, an animated adventure featuring the voices of Gaten Matarazzo and Simon Pegg; Foodiverse, a Chinese animated film with investment from Chinese giant tencent; and the Jacobson brothers’ Brothers’ Nest.

In addition, Odin’s Eye reps the first two titles in Like a Photon’s Tales of Sanctuary City animated franchise, Combat Wombat, a comedy about a wombat turned unintentional superhero, and The Wishmas Tree, which follows a young possum’s misguided wish for a white Wishmas.

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