Issue date: 
Friday, 3 November 2023

Shooting is set to commence in the Taupō region for a new local feature film The Rule of Jenny Pen starring Emmy, Tony and Golden Globe award winning actor John Lithgow (The Crown, Dexter, 3rd Rock from the Sun), Academy, Emmy and Tony award winning actor Geoffrey Rush (Shine, The Kings Speech, Shakespeare in Love) and New Zealand acting icon, George Henare (Once Were Warriors, Crooked Earth).

Directed by New Zealander James Ashcroft (Coming Home in the Dark), The Rule of Jenny Pen is based on a short story by local author Owen Marshall (CNZM).

Set within the confines of an aged care facility, Rush stars as a conceited judge who suffers a near fatal stroke that sees him placed in convalescence where he refuses to cooperate with the facility’s staff or communicate with his roommate. Lithgow plays an aging psychopath who indulges in a sadistic game known as The Rule of Jenny Pen.

Director James Ashcroft comments: “Bringing this terrifying project to the screen has been a decade long labour of love. I’m thrilled to be bringing so many of the incredible Coming Home in the Dark collaborators together again to revisit another suspenseful and disturbing Owen Marshall work.”

“It’s been a true privilege welcoming into the fold three icons of stage and screen, Geoffrey Rush, John Lithgow and George Henare, all of whom have been inspirations since my formative years,” continues Ashcroft. “With the support of Film Bay of Plenty, we’ve discovered our perfect shooting location in Taupō and look forward to being a guest in the region over the coming weeks.”

The film is Ashcroft’s second feature film following his debut Coming Home in the Dark, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival and the New Zealand International Film Festival in 2021. Since then the film has been picked up by Netflix.

Galaxy Pictures will distribute theatrically in New Zealand and Australia toward a 2024 release date. The Rule of Jenny Pen is set to be the first local film released by Galaxy Pictures, a new joint venture film distribution company combining Australasia’s Rialto Distribution and U.K.’s Vertigo Releasing. Rialto Distribution has released over 35 local films theatrically over the previous 30 years, including box office hit Muru which was awarded the highest grossing local film of 2022.

“We are beyond excited to bring The Rule of Jenny Pen to New Zealand and Australian audiences. The sensational filmmaking team and cast are absolute top drawer, there’s going to be huge buzz for this release next year”, said Kelly Rogers, CEO of Galaxy Pictures and Rialto Distribution.

Additional local casting for The Rule of Jenny Pen will be announced at a later date.

The Rule of Jenny Pen is produced by Catherine Fitzgerald (Bellbird, Coming Home in the Dark, Punch), and Orlando Stewart (Bellbird). The screenplay is written by Eli Kent (Coming Home in the Dark, Millie Lies Low) and Ashcroft. Galaxy Pictures will distribute theatrically in New Zealand and Australia. IFC Shudder will be releasing the film in the UK, North America and Ireland. Charades will handle international sales. The film will be made in association with the New Zealand Film Commission, the New Zealand Screen Production Rebate, Rocket Rentals, POW Studio, Hinterland, Amplify and Destination Great Lakes Taupō.

Last updated: 
Friday, 3 November 2023