In a knowing nod to the unpredictable nature of the business of entertainment, the Australian International Movie Convention takes place at Jupiter's Resort and Casino Complex. Forget the black jack tables and incessant pokies, the real gamble lies in knowing which of the films coming down the pipe will connect with audiences, from the avalanche of trailers, features and 'sizzle reels' that form the bulk of distributor presentations. (And speaking of sizzle, Twentieth Century Fox took it to the nth degree this morning with a live samba rendition of 'I Go to Rio' replete with carnivale dancers, steel drummers and some embarrassed looking saxophonists, to promote the release of its next drawcard animated 3D film, Rio, pictured.)
Distributors are the first to admit that they don't know which films will break through the magic $10 million barrier that is used as a benchmark of success at events like this (where the victors receive spoils in the form of oversized plaques), so they do their darnedest to pitch each film with a touch of 'If you liked this then you'll love this…' showmanship in a bid to entice exhibitors to book them and back them to the hilt.
But with a Federal election merely days away, the distributors aren't the only ones with a sales pitch to the film industry; Shadow arts minister Steven Ciobo stopped by Jupiters this morning for a stump speech to seize on the enthusiasm for all things film, and spruik the Coalition's Arts Policy. The centrepiece of the policy is a $60 million fund aimed at boosting investment in new films and to “refocus Australian film production on commercial outcomes”. If elected, an Abbott government would implement the fund to match a distributor's outlay (of between $2 million and $10 million) on eligible Australian films with production budgets between $7 million and $30 million (it's no coincidence that these budget ranges are well in excess of those of your 'average' Australian kitchen sink drama).
While the announcement was made as most of the delegates sat watching Fox's presentation of a work-in-progress print of Oliver Stone's 'tweaked version' of Wall Street sequel, Money Never Sleeps, it nonetheless earned in-principle support from industry groups such as the Screen Producers Association of Australia, and the Motion Picture Distributors' Association of Australia.