Source: Variety (Extract)
Posted: October 22, 2023

Best-selling Australian novel, Runt” is to be adapted as a feature movie that will begin shooting from next month. Studiocanal is handling international rights sales and local distribution in Australia and New Zealand.

The story is a heartfelt, contemporary Australian tale, set in the country town of Upson Downs, where eleven-year-old Annie Shearer and her best friend, an adopted stray dog called Runt, try to save their family farm by competing in the Agility Course Grand Championships at the prestigious Krumpets Dog Show in London.

The book was released in 2022 and won a clean sweep of the major Australian literary awards including the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s book of the year for young readers, book of the year for younger children at the Australian Book Industry Awards, and overall book of the year at the Australian Indie Book Awards.

The movie is adapted for the screen by its West Australian author Craig Silvey (“Jasper Jones”), to be directed by John Sheedy (“H is for Happiness”), and produced by Jamie Hilton (“Breath,” “June Again”).

See Pictures is producing with major production investment from Screen Australia, Screenwest and Lotterywest and the WA Regional Screen Fund. Also co-financing are the Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF), a collective of West Australian private investors assembled by Birdbath, as well as Screen NSW and Spectrum Entertainment.

“Runt” will begin shooting in Western Australia, in Perth and the Wheatbelt town of York from next month.

It will star Jai Courtney (“Jack Reacher,” “Divergent,” “Suicide Squad”), Celeste Barber (“Wellmania,” “The Letdown”), Deborah Mailman (“Sapphires,” “Total Control”), Matt Day and Jack Thompson (“Breaker Morant,” “The Man from Snowy River,” “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones”). Leading the picture are new stars, nine-year old Lily LaTorre, who plays the story’s hero Annie Shearer, her real life brother Jack LaTorre and Squid, a dog which was rescued and retrained over several months by the production’s animal department. She “is ready to become an Australian screen legend herself,” the producers say.

Rounding out the ensemble is Matt Day (“Sweet Country,” “Muriel’s Wedding”), Tom Budge (“Candy,” “Tracks”) and Genevieve Lemon (“Power of the Dog”).

“The See Pictures team, our investors and many of our cast and crew are Aussie parents who are making this joyful movie for our kids and grandkids. We’re trying to channel timeless characters like Babe and Paddington, to create an Australian legend we can all cherish,” said Hilton referencing Studiocanal’s role behind the “Paddington” movie franchise.

“I’m delighted to collaborate with Craig Silvey once again. Together, we are crafting a feel-good movie that promises to take the audience on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, from belly laughs to heartfelt moments, all while exuding endless charm,” said Sheedy.