Mad Max director buys rights to ex-L.A. Noire dev's new project

George Miller picks up Team Bondi founder Brendan McNamara's next game, Whore of the Orient, and calls for more government support for Australian game developers.

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In August this year, it was reported that Australian L.A. Noire developer Team Bondi sold its intellectual property and assets to Sydney-based multimedia production firm Kennedy Miller Mitchell after employee complaints about abusive working conditions and credits omissions drew the attention of the International Game Developers Association. At the time, it was revealed all Team Bondi employees were given the choice of moving to work at Kennedy Miller Mitchell or accepting a severance package.

Kennedy Miller Mitchell is a film production company cofounded by Mad Max director George Miller and producing partner Doug Mitchell. Its recent projects include Happy Feet 2 and preproduction for Mad Max: Fury Road. The company's game-making arm, KMM Games, produced the game adaptation of Happy Feet 2.

L.A. Noire is the only game in Team Bondi's six-year history.

Now, in an interview with the Australian Financial Review, Miller and Mitchell have revealed KMM has acquired the rights to Team Bondi founder Brendan McNamara's next game, titled Whore of the Orient.

Earlier this month, McNamara told Eurogamer that he was working on a new game, describing it as "one of the great untold stories of the 20th century."

In the AFR interview, Miller and Mitchell revealed that former Team Bondi staff took up positions at KMM and immediately began work on Happy Feet 2 and that the company also employed members of the now-closed Australian studio Krome. Mitchell used this point to highlight the need for more reasonable tax incentives for local video game developers, saying he would like to make both the game version of Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as McNamara's Whore of the Orient in Australia if the Australian government would extend the 40 percent producer tax rebate introduced in 2007 to video game development. Currently, the rebate allows for big-budget film projects to be made locally and is responsible for securing KMM's Happy Feet 2 and Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby.

"With the government's support, we can immediately go forward with two games," Mitchell said in the article. "Warner Bros. is standing by, willing to do Fury Road; the incentive would bring it back here in a New York minute. It's not immediately obvious, but the potential in the video games sector is massive. Just from the statistics people are showing me, it's a $60 billion industry fast-tracking toward $90 billion. And it's not dominated by any particular country."

"There are technologies they have to develop in games because things need to happen more quickly in a game," Miller told the AFR. "Those are going to speed up digital filmmaking and television way more because they're obliged to do it if they want things to look as real as possible and happen in real time. And that's really pushing things, so that instead of years to make an animation film, that time could collapse."

According to Startupsmart.com.au, Federal Arts Minister Simon Crean will make the case for an extension of the producer tax rebate to game development as part of the expenditure review committee process before the next federal budget.

Crean visited Miller and Mitchell's studio, where Miller himself outlined the benefits of investing in the global game development industry.

"Until I went to George Miller's studios...I hadn't understood the extension of the film industry to the game industry," Crean told the AFR. "I think there's a strong case for it; it's a logical extension to what we've already proved our worth at and the international market already values."

Earlier this month, industry body Screen Australia increased its push to lobby the federal government for more support in the local game development industry with the release of a discussion paper. The discussion paper can be viewed and downloaded in full via the Screen Australia website.

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