Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
EXCLUSIVE: New York-based project finance consultancy SGI Global Advisors has agreed to help the producers of Trouble Down Under raise funds for the $50 million 3D animated feature which will be shot in Sydney. The producers are Fastlane Entertainment’s LA-based Frank Miniaci and Tony Findlay. Aussie Steve Trenbirth (The Lion King II, The Jungle Book II) will direct. The voice cast will include TV talk show host Dr Oz, Rove McManus, Andrew Daddo and Tony Bonner, with other roles in negotiation. The chronicle of African meerkats who cause tension in the Outback with a mob of kangaroos, complicated by the arrival of a “rogue” white wallaby named Al Bino, is based on an original idea by Findlay, who collaborated on the screenplay with Trenbirth. The producers have tapped Rowland Hanson, a former VP of corporate communications at Microsoft, where he created the branding strategy for the launch of Windows, to head up the merchandising and marketing program. Separately, SGI is setting up a $750 million entertainment fund to co-finance films with the U.S. studios and indies, TV projects and online media. Findlay tells Deadline the budget includes the cost of setting up a CGI animation studio in Sydney’s Alexandria. He aims to go into production later this year after raising the first tranche of funds- talks are underway with an L.A.-based fund- and is already writing a sequel.