‘Brother’s Nest.’

The Jacobson brothers’ blackly comic crime drama Brother’s Nest, which was partly funded by exhibitors, had a subdued opening last weekend.

But one programmer reports word-of-mouth is very positive and she is open to doing more equity investment deals in Australian films.

Executive producer Tait Brady raised a total of $180,000 – about 10 per cent of the production budget – from exhibitors including Reading Cinemas, Wallis Cinemas and Majestic Cinemas.

In effect each exhibitor put up an advance against film hire for the film directed by Clayton Jacobson and scripted by Jamie Browne (The Mule, Secret Daughter, Please Like Me).

The plot follows brothers Terry (Shane Jacobson) and Jeff (Clayton) as they turn up at the family cottage where their mother (Lynette Curran) is dying of cancer. Jeff blames his stepfather Rodger (Kim Gyngell) for the death of his father, who hanged himself after the boys’ mother left.

Rodger is set to inherit the farm so Jeff plans to kill him and make it look like suicide. Sarah Snook plays a farmer who finds more than she bargained for when she arrives to collect a horse.

Brady’s Label launched the film on 58 screens, grossing $67,000 and $85,000 with filmmaker Q&A screenings. “We were hoping for double that,” Brady tells IF. “The Sydney figures were soft. We are a bit puzzled as to why, given the generally good reviews.

“However our partner cinemas have an incentive to keep the film on and we are adding a further 15 screens in regional areas over the next few weeks.”

Wallis Cinemas programming manager Sasha Close says: “While the opening weekend results were softer than we would have liked, word-of-mouth on the film is very good. Wallis Cinemas would definitely consider equity investment again for appropriate titles. This deal enabled us to access a range of marketing and unique PR messages that aren’t always available to independent cinemas.”

Her colleague Bob Parr thinks the MA15+ classification may have deterred some cinemagoers and with hindsight he wishes the film had not been released against Universal’s blockbuster Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell says the results were a bit disappointing at some of his locations but observes, “The key is to make it work over the long haul and the feedback on the film itself has been very positive. The MA rating hasn’t helped, nor has it been easy getting the message out that it “ain’t no Kenny,” being a very different style of movie.

“We will continue to look at innovative ways of connecting Australian audiences with movies, so wouldn’t give up after one try. Perhaps a more accessible movie would do better under this model, and with a release date not up against two of the most successful blockbuster releases in recent times. We will continue to give them feedback and hopefully they can refine the model.”

The international sales agent, Michael Favelle’s Odin’s Eye Entertainment, has sold the film to China’s Times Vision, which intends a theatrical release if it passes censorship, and to the Middle East’s Phoenicia Pictures.

Favelle is fielding offers from several territories including the UK and the US (the latter co-represented by Richard Guardian) and says: “We have a number of key festivals lined up, which we can’t announce yet, which should help the international roll-out.”

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