Bad Boy Bubby actor Nicholas Hope: distributors are scared to back brave Australian films

Nicholas Hope in Bad Boy Bubby

Nicholas Hope, who played the lead role in Australian cult classic Bad Boy Bubby, has said that film distributors are “frightened” to back “brave” Australian films.

Hope told Encore: “There are Australian film-makers out there who are doing daring things. It’s difficult to say if they are being brave enough. The one thing holding them back is distribution.”

“There are brave films out there that just can’t get cinema release,” he said.

Hope named Bad Boy Bubby in his list of the three bravest Australian films ever made, along with Chopper and Wake in Fright.

“Distributors are frightened of taking on another local film. So it’s very difficult for indie films, which don’t have large budgets and aren’t presented in a certain way, to find an audience.”

In the year Bad Boy Bubby was released, in 1993, the Rolf de Heer-directed film was outperformed at the box office by two other popular Australian classics, Muriel’s Wedding and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

“All three films were adventurous – but not in the same way as Bubby,” Hope said.

“And all three films found an audience. But whether they would today is questionable. Village Roadshow [Bad Boy Bubby’s distributor] kept Bubby running when it was not making money. They simply wanted the film to reach an audience. That would not happen now.”

New ways of distributing films could change the game for emerging Australian film-makers, he added.

“In the next few years, I’m sure it will be possible to make money from films distributed through new technologies. It’s an area that I’m fascinated and excited by,” he said.

Hope said that he wasn’t averse to appearing in TV commercials, but would not endorse some products. “There are various things I wouldn’t want to advertise. I would not appear in an for a fast food brand, or a product that was associated with child labour,” he said.

He added that he would like to do more than act; he is currently touring with theatre production The Mousetrap in the role of Major Metcalf.

“I would love to go into content production. I’ve made one short film, which was fabulous fun. And I have a number of ideas. But I’m terrible at dragging ideas from the format use – prose – into film. As yet haven’t been able to convince anyone to let me produce or direct my scripts,” he said.

Hope wrote and directed the short film Complicity.

Hope is among a crew of actors to teach at new Sydney acting school, International Screen Academy.


  1. Braveheart
    4 Nov 12
    1:07 pm

  2. By “brave” does he mean “monotonous arthouse films that no one wants to watch”?

  3. Over It
    5 Nov 12
    11:05 am

  4. Braveheart, I think you’re spot-on. And I believe it is actually up to the exhibitors to keep films on screens rather than distributors – and how do you convince a cinema to keep showing a movie that no one turns up to watch? It ends up costing more to advertise the bloody movie’s session time in the newspaper and run the projector than it actually takes in ticket revenue.

    Here’s a crazy idea – how about filmmakers make movies for an actual film-going audience! There’s no point in making ‘brave’ films if there is not a ‘brave’ audience waiting to see them.

  5. Nicholas Hope
    6 Nov 12
    1:52 pm

  6. Nicholas Hope here. While I thank Mumbrella and Encore for giving me airtime and mentioning my upcoming gig as a teacher at the new International Screen Academy in Sydney, I think it important to advise that I feel I have been quoted out of context in this article. The way in which my comments have been truncated imply that I hold some sort of grudge against current Australian film distributors for not being ‘brave’. I do not. I spent some time during the interview answering a
    series of persistent questions about the bravery or otherwise of current Australian film, and spoke about the difficulty of cinema distribution in the current market, which so far as I understand it has changed and continues to change radically with changes in technology, and with the strength of long-form television.

    This has a huge impact on the ability of distributors and exhibitors to take a chance on fare that is likely to be aimed at a limited audience – which is already potentially well served by developing exhibition formats. Distributors ARE taking chances – The Sapphires was a similar sort of genre risk as A Heartbeat Away; The Hunter and Sleeping Beauty were risks of a very different kind; all these films performed very differently.

    The difficulty for what might loosely be called any ‘brave’ film, Australian or otherwise, is in getting a distributor to take that risk, and in then managing to surface against a mass of entertaining, high profile films. Australian distributors and exhibitors take a fairly hefty risk in a very small market: Australian film itself is consistently criticised for not living up to the results of its high budget competition. A few years after Bad Boy Bubby, Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Australian film was criticised by Australian media for being too ‘quirky’; a few years after Chopper, it was criticised for being too dark. My point in the interview was that the commercial reality of modern cinema does not allow for distributors to keep taking risks on films that very palpably may not reach a sufficient audience; that the ‘brave’ films my interviewer asked me to identify may not have been successful in the same way in the current market; and that the developing new technologies present an exciting potential for different forms of distribution and exhibition that may allow greater risk taking because of reduced cost, and greater market reach – all areas that the International Screen Academy is concentrating on.

    I hope that in time this will complement our current distribution formats, as well as increase the work opportunities throughout our industry – an industry I am proud to be a part of, and proud to continue acting in.

  7. Shoshanna Bass
    9 Nov 12
    5:09 pm

  8. Nicholas, you should know that there are too many smaller Aussie films that compte against each other in very limited cinemas. Your old mate Rolf De Heer brought out The King Is Dead recently and as much as I thought it was OK (due only to the chemistry of Dan & Bojana) this film was nevr going to finad an audience. I wasn’t brave by being dark, it wasn’t brave by being socailly inept, it was mostly mindless. I will go out of my way to see and actually pay for every Australian release small or large, but when this year alone has been a great example of the rubbish Aussie films have dealt out. Other than The Sapphires, Universal & Roadshow should be ashamed of themselves for Mental & Kath & Kim. Your film all those years ago Nicholas, Lust & Revenge was one of the best ‘brave’ films of the decade from Aussie, look how well that did at the box office. I am just saying, distribution sucks.