WHEN I FIRST spoke to Leah Purcell about The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson last year, she told me she felt like she had been pregnant with the film for almost three years and was ready to get it out into the world.
Unfortunately, COVID went on to delay its birth even further, with the Delta outbreak seeing Roadshow push the film from October 2021 to May 2022.
The Drover’s Wife enters the world as the largest Australian release of the year so far, amid a somewhat fractured theatrical landscape where superhero blockbusters are breaking box office records, but many films aimed at older audiences are underperforming.
Purcell, producer and partner Bain Stewart, and star Rob Collins talk putting The Drover’s Wife together for our cover story. Purcell and Stewart will also speak at the Australian Feature Film Summit next week in front of an audience of producers, distributors and exhibitors about making the film a cinematic proposition.
The summit, whose program we carry inside the issue, aims to see these three sectors of the industry work more closely together, and foster ideas as to how to work together to ensure theatrical success for Aussie features in cinema.
Summit director, producer and distributor Sue Maslin, argues in an opinion piece for us in this issue, that as streamers grow in might, the industry has to do business differently when it comes to theatrical release of local features.
Among Maslin’s provocative questions: What if producers could learn more about audience trends and what informs audience choice from those who are closest to it – the exhibitors and distributors?
In this issue we also ask a range of distributors – from major studios to indies – how they see the landscape for Australian feature film on pages. They also discuss the business more generally ahead of this month’s Movie Convention, where the issue will be available for free for delegates, with the program inside.
With exhibitors, we use this issue to reflect on the first quarter at the BO, examine sustainability efforts, and new innovations and technology for cinemas.
For producers who missed Screen Forever, we also bring you interviews and tidbits from sessions at the conference across floor.
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Jackie Keast, Editor