US, Oz release dates for vigilante thriller

Kelly Dolen’s John Doe: Vigilante will debut in US cinemas on March 21, the tenth Australian film to have secured a cinema release in that market this year.

Monster Pictures will launch the thriller starring Battlestar Galactica’s Jamie Bamber as John Doe – a man accused of being a vigilante serial killer- in Australia on May 8.

The screenplay by Stephen M. Coates follows a vigilante group called Speak for the Dead which supports Doe’s cause while he’s in prison, igniting a debate about justice versus vengeance.

Lachy Hulme (Offspring, Power Games: The Packer-Murdoch Story, The Matrix Revolutions) plays a reporter who is trying to uncover the true story about Doe.

“John Doe: Vigilante is intended to create a debate and put a mirror up to society,” said Dolen. “We aren’t glamorising violence, but posing the question…is violence ever really justified? Who decides what is right and what is wrong? And why is the legal system failing us? The film is coloured with shades of grey and that’s very compelling.”

Main Street Films is launching the film in select cities, its third theatrical release following Yiddish-language WW2 drama The Pin and Mike Newell’s Great Expectations, which starred Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter.

“Each of our films has been very distinct,” said Harrison Kordestani, President of Main Street Films. “With John Doe: Vigilante we have a very visceral and raw film that makes people react and think. It’s topical, it’s confrontational and it’s real, and I think that’s what has resonated the most with people. It’s a very gritty and exciting action film that is a bit of a throwback to the days when action films weren’t all about CGI. “

The film was produced by Screen Corporation’s James M. Vernon and Kristy Vernon with David Lightfoot and Keith Sweitzer.

Monster Pictures plans to open the thriller in six screens in the capital cities. “Monster is delighted to be involved with John Doe: Vigilante,” said creative director Neil Foley.

“This is a fast and hard-hitting thrill ride and it's the exact sort of Aussie film we like to champion. We believe that it is genre cinema that will reinvigorate Australian cinema and it excites us to be part of this new wave. In 2011 we set up Monster Fest for this very purpose and in three years it has grown substantially and now with Screen Australia support we are certain it will grow even further; in our opinion genre cinema is alive and well in Australia.”

The Rocket was the first Oz film released in the US this year, starting a platform release via Kino Lorber on January 10. Lionsgate launched I, Frankenstein on January 24, grossing a lousy $US15.7 million in 12 days.

Still to come are The Babadook (IFC Midnight), Canopy (Monterey Media), Predestination (Sony), Wolf Creek 2 (Image Entertainment), The Railway Man and Tracks (both the Weinstein Co.) and 52 Tuesdays (Kino Lorber).