Australia's Seven Network Invests in Russell Crowe's 'The Water Diviner'

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The broadcaster joins RatPac Entertainment as financiers of the WWI film, which is the star's directorial debut.

SYDNEY – Australia's Seven West Media and Seven Group Holdings, the parent companies of TV broadcaster Seven Network, are joining James Packer and Brett Ratner’s RatPac Entertainment as investors in Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner.

The investment gives Seven access to a key project in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign during World War I. The Gallipoli peninsula is in modern-day Turkey. The date of the Gallipoli landing is known as Anzac Day in Australia and remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in the country.

Other Australian media companies have also worked on Gallipoli projects. Nine is currently in production on a miniseries, Gallipoli, based on Les Carlyon’s book, while Foxtel’s epic miniseries, Deadline Gallipoli, starring Sam Worthington and being produced by Worthington’s Full Clip Productions and Matchbox Pictures, starts shooting next month in South Australia.

Billed as an “epic adventure of love, faith and heroism”, The Water Diviner stars Crowe and Olga Kurylenko. It is set four years after the devastating battle of Gallipoli and tells the story of Australian farmer Connor  (Crowe) who travels to Istanbul to discover the fate of his sons, reported missing in the action, where he forges a relationship with the beautiful Turkish woman (Kurylenko) who owns the hotel in which he stays.  Holding on to hope, and with the help of a Turkish Officer, Connor embarks on a journey across the country to find the truth about the fate of his sons.

“This project is a special one for Seven. The original script came to us through Hopscotch [now eOne] some time ago and it was our view that it was one of best scripts for an Australian film we had ever read," said Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner. "It is a brilliant story set against the backdrop of one of the most important stories in Australian history."

He added: “It is an incredibly moving tale and while not giving too much away we felt its production as a major movie is just the most powerful way of conveying to all Australians the special place that Gallipoli has. We are really thankful to Hopscotch and also to now be associated with both Russell Crowe and Ratpac on this project. All of them have fantastic track records as really strong storytellers."

Also starring in The Water Diviner are Turkish actors Yilmaz Erdogan (Once Upon A Time in Anatolia) and Cem Yilmaz (Hokkabaz), Australian actors Jai Courtney, Steve Bastoni, Isabel Lucas, Ryan Corr, Dan Wyllie, Damon Herriman, Jacqueline McKenzie, Michael Dorman, Megan Gale and Dylan Georgiades.

The screenplay is by Andrew Knight and Andrew Anastasios and cinematography is by Andrew Lesnie.
The Water Diviner is being produced by Andrew Mason and Troy Lum for Hopscotch Features, and by Keith Rodger for Fear of God Films, with backing from RatPac Entertainment, the Seven Network and private investors.

RatPac Entertainment’s Packer and Ratner will executive produce. Mister Smith Entertainment is managing international sales.

The film has been shot in outback New South Wales, Australia and Turkey in recent months.

Crowe is taking a break from the project while promoting his biblical epic Noah, directed by Darren Aronofsky.