Issue date: 
Friday, 17 July 2020

Kiel McNaughton’s debut feature, The Legend of Baron To’a, has been acquired by US distributor, Gravitas Ventures who will release the film in North American cinemas and on demand from November 2020.

Gravitas Ventures, a Red Arrow Studios company, has acquired North American rights to the action comedy, The  Legend of Baron To’a starring Uli Latukefu (Alien Covenant, Marco Polo), Nathaniel Lees (The Matrix Revolutions, The Matrix Reloaded, Mortal Engines), Jay Laga’aia (Star Wars Episode II, Star Wars Episode III, Daybreakers),  John Tui (Solo: A Star Wars Story, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, Battleship), and Duane Evans Jr. (Avatar). The film is written by John Argall and produced by Kerry Warkia with funding from the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC).

The action-packed movie follows a young man, Fritz (Uli Latukefu), as he returns to his old neighborhood and inadvertently causes the theft of his late father’s valued pro wrestling title belt by some ruthless gangsters led by ‘man-mountain’ Tahu. When negotiation and diplomacy fail to get it back, he is forced to embrace his father’s (John Tui) legacy to reclaim the title.

“To be getting a North American release is incredibly exciting and we couldn’t be happier to receive this kind of support from Gravitas. To be following in the footsteps of other indigenous filmmakers taking their films to the world is a dream come true,” said director Kiel McNaughton.

NZFC CEO, Annabelle Sheehan said, “It’s wonderful that this entertaining local film showcasing New Zealand’s vibrant Polynesian community will receive a theatrical release in North America. Kiel’s The Legend of Baron To’a is filled with colourful characters, wonderfully choreographed fight and chase scenes and packs a real narrative punch. We’re excited the film with be released theatrically in North America later this year.”

“Kiel McNaughton’s film is a crowd-pleasing action comedy with a star turn by Uli Latukefu. Audiences will be seeing a lot more of these two rising talents, and we’re excited to be presenting the film in North America this fall,” said Tony Piantedosi, Vice President of Acquisitions at Gravitas Ventures.

The Legend of Baron To’a was released in New Zealand cinemas in February 2020 by Madman Entertainment and releases on DVD and digital platforms in Australia and New Zealand on 22 July.

Last updated: 
Friday, 17 July 2020