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Elijah Wood treks across New Zealand in the Bookworm trailer

The poster and trailer for the big new adventure comedy film Bookworm have been unveiled ahead of its release on August 8th. Shot on location in the Canterbury region of New Zealand, Bookworm stars acclaimed Hollywood actor Elijah Wood (Yellowjackets, Come to Daddy, The Lord of the Rings), alongside Kiwi breakout star Nell Fisher (Evil Dead Rise, Northspur).

The film follows washed-up American illusionist Strawn Wise (Wood) and his long-estranged precocious daughter Mildred (Fisher), who in the midst of a family crisis, venture into the New Zealand wilderness in search of a mythical black panther.

Additional casting includes Michael Smiley (Obituary, Bad Sisters, Kill List), Vanessa Stacey (Out of the Blue, The Lord of the Rings) and Morgana O’Reilly (Friends Like Her, set to star in the upcoming season of White Lotus).

Bookworm is directed by Ant Timpson (Come to Daddy), and co-written by Timpson and Toby Harvard (Come to Daddy). The pair wrote the film with Elijah Wood in mind, who jumped at the chance to shoot a film in New Zealand and to reunite with the creative team behind Come to Daddy.

“There was a joy in shooting a film almost entirely on location in the Canterbury region too – a unique experience in itself. Bookworm’s story is hilarious, heartwarming and touching – I hope audiences love it,” commented Elijah Wood.

Director Ant Timpson said: “This fun adventure about two endearing oddballs bonding in the great New Zealand outdoors offers the perfect escapism on the big screen. We had a blast making it with our super talented cast and crew, and now it’s time to release Bookworm into the wild for everyone to check out.”

Production searched far and wide when casting Mildred’s character, auditioning more than 300 children, but when Timpson saw Nell Fisher, he said it was a no brainer: “She’s just phenomenal. Nell has that rare quality that comes alive on screen, inhabiting a character from top to toe. She’s going to be a major talent. Watch this space.”

Fisher said returning to New Zealand to shoot Bookworm was a special experience: “It was my first time in Canterbury and it was absolutely breathtaking. Working with Elijah Wood was such a privilege. He’s such a funny guy and an amazing actor – I learnt a lot from him. Bookworm is a lovely, fun story – I hope audiences enjoy the journey watching it. We certainly had fun making it.”

Bookworm is produced by Emma Slade (Uproar, Mister Organ), Roxi Bull (Uproar, The Justice of Bunny King), Victoria Dabbs (Uproar, Sunshine on Leith), Mette-Marie Kongsved (I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore, Come to Daddy) and Laura Turnstall (Lemonade, Get Duked!).

The film was made with financing from the Te Tumu Whakaata Taonga New Zealand Film Commission, New Zealand Screen Production Rebate, Talon Entertainment, Orogen Entertainment, Screen Canterbury and Images and Sound. The film is distributed in New Zealand and Australia by Rialto Distribution. Rialto Distribution has released over 35 local films theatrically over the previous 30 years, including box office hit Muru which was the highest grossing local film of 2022.

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