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On the eve of the film’s Australian release (Feb 4, 2010), the Spierig brothers’ Aussie vampire movie, Daybreakers, hit US$30 million at the American box office after its first three weeks; producer Chris Brown tells Andrew L. Urban why Australian filmmakers can all take heart.

PART 1 - (13mins)

PART 2 - (4 mins)

The successful launch of the US/Australian coproduction, Daybreakers, has shown Americans that they can work collaboratively with Australian filmmakers – producers, writers, directors - to produce films that work in their (US) market, says Chris Brown.

If you’ve got a great idea, a great script and 100% commitment to the film, you’re already on the road to success – no matter what the film is, says Brown, the English expat Gold Coast-based producer who has made all kinds of films in his time, including the high powered arthouse Aussie Western, The Proposition, and latterly, the clever vampire movie, Daybreakers, the second film from Queensland brothers Michael and Peter Spierig.

"a genre film with a difference"

Distributed in the US by mini-major, Lionsgate (who spent around US$20 million on prints & advertising), Daybreakers is a genre film with a difference: audiences who expect a standard vampire movie will get a bonus: the freshness of a clever scenario.

As Brown explains, Lionsgate were instrumental in guiding the film’s development. “They also held test screenings, and when they got the evaluations back, just by looking at the bottom line figures they could tell it needed a different ending. We said ‘how can you tell from just looking at a row of figures’ and demanded to see the entire 240 evaluation reports. When we finished them we realised they were right. And of course being Americans, they didn’t say what new ending they wanted … in fact they said they wanted to see six new endings!” he laughs.

We’re not about to reveal the ending, but here’s a short synopsis of the story: An unknown plague has transformed the world's population into vampires. As the human population nears extinction, vampires must capture and farm every remaining human before time runs out. Businessman Charles Bromley (Sam Neill) is busy making and selling farmed human blood, with the help of his top haematologist Edward (Ethan Hawke); but when Edward literally runs into Audrey (Claudia Karvan) and her small band of humans who might have a secret that has the power to save the human race.

With the Australian Government’s Producer Offset scheme, which rebates up to 40% of eligible expenditure to the production company, Australian filmmakers can put it on the table in negotiations with American companies, says Brown, and it means a lot to have a success like Daybreakers as an example.

On its opening day in America (January 8, 2010), Daybreakers was No 2 to Avatar; “that was a huge buzz,” says Brown. “On that actual day we beat Sherlock Holmnes, where the catering budget was probably twice the entire budget of our movie….”

Published February 4, 2010

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Chris Brown


PART 1 - (13mins)

PART 2 - (4 mins)

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