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Comedy legend John Cleese has signed on to star in The Great Emu War, an Australia-set action-adventure comedy inspired by a ridiculous true story.
Aussie comedians Monty Franklin and Jim Jefferies and New Zealand funnyman Rhys Darby (What We Do in the Shadows, Flight of the Conchords) are also attached to the film, which Franklin wrote, inspired by real events in Western Australia in 1932 when the Australian army declared war on the country’s wild emu population — and lost.
Yaniv Raz (Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets) will direct The Great Emu War; Robyn Kershaw (Bran Nue Dae, Seriously Red) is producing with Village Roadshow Pictures. Kylie Bracknell (Irreverent) will co-produce. The producers are currently casting the lead female roles for the film.
Musician and animal rights activist Moby will contribute original music for The Great Emu War. Mister Smith Entertainment is handling world sales and will pitch the project to buyers at the 2021 American Film Market, which kicks off next week.
The Great Emu War is set in Western Australia in 1932. When farmers complain that flocks of emu are eating their crops and wreaking havoc, they turn to the Australian government, which sends heavily-armed divisions of the army to wipe out the bird. But the flightless fowl prove too clever for the military, which, after several humiliating skirmishes, declares defeat.
“I’m grateful that our wise emu overlords have seen fit to allow me the opportunity to blend satire with slapstick and tell a poignant story about humanity’s war against nature,” said Raz in a statement. “I couldn’t be more delighted to helm a picture that is simultaneously so entertaining, meaningful, and relevant.”
The original idea for the film came from one of Franklin’s stand-up comedy routines. The movie will be shot in the Campion district of Western Australia, on the lands of the Noongar people, and mainly employ local Australian crew.
“It is audacious and fitting that the first big Hollywood film on Noongar land is a comedy celebrating how Country itself can turn the tables on imperialism,” said Bracknell, who is Noongar. “Amidst the calamity, a very special female character will emerge and do things we haven’t yet seen in any feature film.”
The emus will be created from a combination of in-camera effects, CGI and puppetry. The Great Emu War is set to begin principal photography in Australia in May 2022.
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