US deal for Abe Forsythe’s ‘Little Monsters’ as Aussie films are acclaimed in Sundance

‘Little Monsters.’ (Photo credit: Ben King)

Neon and Hulu have jointly acquired US rights to Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters in the first major deal for the Australian films that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

The dark comedy starring Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England and Josh Gad sparked an overnight bidding war resulting in the deal worth mid-seven figures, reported.

The theatrical release will be accompanied by a massive cross promotion on Hulu’s streaming platform, which has an estimated 23 million subscribers.

The Screen Actors Guild award to the cast of Black Panther, which features Nyong’o, is said to have piqued buyers’ interest in the film which premiered in the Midnight section.

Produced by Snoot Entertainment’s Keith and Jess Calder with Made Up Stories’ Bruna Papandrea, Jodie Matterson and Steve Hutensky and funded by Screen Australia and Create NSW, the film stars England as Dave, who crashes at his sister’s place after a rough breakup.

When an opportunity arises to chaperone his five-year-old nephew Felix (Diesel La Torraca) on a school excursion led by the charming and enigmatic teacher Miss Caroline (Nyong’o), he jumps at the chance to impress her.

What he wasn’t anticipating was Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad), an obnoxious children’s television personality who shapes the excursion’s activities — or a Zombie invasion which occurs after an experiment at a nearby military base goes awry.

Armed only with the resourcefulness of kindergartners, Dave, Miss Caroline, and Teddy must work together to keep the monsters at bay and carve a way out with their guts intact.

Universal Pictures will distribute in Australia. Protagonist Pictures is handling international sales.

The Playlist named Little Monsters, Sophie Hyde’s Animals and Grant Sputore’s I Am Mother among its 25 must-see Sundance films.

‘I Am Mother’

Produced by Kelvin Munro and Timothy White and scripted by Michael Lloyd Green, Sputore’s sci-fi thriller stars Hilary Swank, newcomer Clara Rugaard, a former Disney Channel star in Denmark, and Rose Byrne.

Rugaard plays a lonely teenager who is raised by ‘Mother,’ a kindly robot designed to repopulate the Earth following the extinction of mankind. That bond is threatened when a blood-drenched woman played by Swank turns up, calling into question everything the girl had been told about the outside world.

Byrne voices the robot, which was designed by Kiwi special effects house WETA Workshop.

Slashfilm’s Ben Pearson said: “I Am Mother takes a familiar premise and executes it to near-perfection, with first-time feature filmmaker Grant Sputore aided by a fantastic script, a star-making performance from UK actress Clara Rugaard, a strong supporting turn from Hilary Swank, and a brilliantly realized new robot that instantly cements its status in the pantheon of classic genre creations. Put this on your radar – you don’t want to miss it.”

Variety’s Amy Nicholson saw the director’s lineage as James Cameron crossbred with Ridley Scott as he proves he can make an expensive-looking film for relative peanuts, observing: “If this were his job application for a blockbuster gig, he’d get the job.”

Meanwhile the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Tynan listed Mirrah Foulkes’ Judy & Punch among the Sundance dramas that “made my day.”

A re-imagining of the clasic puppet show Punch and Judy, the darkly comic revenge story follows Mia Wasikowska’s Judy as she joins forces with a band of outcast heretics to extract revenge on Damon Herriman’s Punch, a narcissistic, violent puppet master.

Tynan enthused: “A savage and stylish satire, this Mia Wasikowska-starring debut by Australia’s Mirrah Foulkes places husband-and-wife puppeteers in an anarchic world, a bravura cross between Elizabethan England and Clockwork Orange. A film that feels deliciously dangerous to know.”

In her review Screen International’s Wendy Ide opined: “This live action reinterpretation of the traditional puppet show is a grand guignol romp through a society gripped by a fever of superstition.”