Aussie Actors Win a Share of North American Revenues
Australian actors who work in local feature films will get a 3.6% royalty from North American distributors’ gross receipts four years after films are first exploited in that market under a new Actors Feature Film Agreement (AFFA). The budget of Australian films in which one or more SAG members are employed also has been raised from $A15 million ($15.5 million) to $22.5 million under the deal negotiated between Equity and representatives of the Screen Producers Association of Australia (SPAA). The new agreement, backdated to January 2012, gives Aussie actors a 17.5% wage increase over 5 years. “This agreement represents a growing spirit of collaboration between actors and producers, and a willingness to work together to enhance opportunities for the Australian production sector as a whole. We have secured a brand new revenue stream for actors along with a significant wage increase in exchange for concessions which should assist the local industry,” Equity director Sue McCreadie said. “SPAA has secured a commitment from the union to help Australian films be more competitive in a rapidly globalizing market,” SPAA production executive Owen Johnston said. He told Deadline that SAG rates entail higher upfront payments and a bigger share of the back-end for actors. The producers and Equity are now negotiating new deals for TV actors and for repeats and residuals as that model was drawn up in the pre-digital era when actors were paid for a program that aired four times on one network. – Don Groves

BCE Announces Plans For Online Movie Service
BCE, Canada’s largest telecommunications company, is planning an online movie service that can challenge Netflix. The company says it expects to use programming gained in its proposed $3B acquisition of Astral Media to supply the service, Bloomberg reports. The service will showcase “movies from Astral’s pay-TV services, such as HBO Canada and the Movie Network, and great news, entertainment and sports content from Bell Media,” BCE Chief Executive Officer George Cope said today in Montreal where he attended regulatory hearings into the proposed acquisition that is facing opposition. A campaign called “Say No To Bell” is fighting the plan, arguing that a combined Bell-Astral would control 37.6 percent of television viewership in Canada, more than double the nearest competitor. Telus Corp, a Bell competitor which sells wireless services and cable TV packages, and Quebecor, which operates TV channels in Quebec, also are opposing the deal.

Legend 3D Hiring Former Digital Domain Workers

Legend 3D, the San Diego-based 3-D conversion company, is interested in hiring some of the 300 workers recently laid off at Digital Domain’s studio in Florida. “We’re getting a flood of resumes from Digital Domain Florida,” Legend 3D founder and chief creative officer Barry Sandrew tells the Los Angeles Times. “We’ll take as many as we can. Digital Domain is a great visual effects studio and everyone hopes they can survive.” Digital Domain Media Group last week announced it was shuttering its new computer animation facility in Port St. Lucie and laying off most of its 320 employees. The company’s CEO John Textor also is stepping down as part of a restructuring. The new hires will work mainly as compositing and depth artists on several unnamed movies being converted into stereoscopic viewing, according to the Times. Legend 3D has created 3-D conversion work on such movies as The Smurfs, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, and Hugo.

Kath & Kimderella Movie Clicks in Oz, Overseas Sales On Agenda
The producers of Kath & Kimderella, the movie spin-off from the popular sitcom Kath & Kim, have started their efforts to clinch distribution deals in the U.S. and other territories following its healthy $A2.19 million ($2.26 million) debut Down Under. The four-day tally, which includes a Wednesday night preview, is the second biggest for an Australian film this year, behind The Sapphires’ $2.3 million. Executive producer Rick McKenna is confident of a sale to the U.S., where the Australian series had a cult following on Trio and Sundance Channel. McKenna doesn’t think the failure of the U.S. version, which was produced by Reveille and Universal Media Studios and starred Selma Blair and Molly Shannon, will have any bearing on the film’s prospects. Aired on NBC in 2008, that show “drove off a cliff so quickly no one noticed,” McKenna tells Deadline. Written by and starring Jane Turner and Gina Riley, who created the TV series, the movie follows the misadventures of Kath (Turner) and her daughter Kim (Riley) as they win a trip to a mythical principality on the Italian coast. It features Rob Sitch as the principality’s king, Richard E. Grant as the effete royal page, and series regulars Glenn Robbins, Peter Rowsthorn and Magda Szubanski. Released in Australia by Roadshow, the Ted Emery-directed comedy was financed by Screen Australia, the 40% producer rebate and the creators’ families and friends. – Don Groves