Nick Giannopoulos on his battle to make Wog Boy 3
The next day, I meet Giannopoulos for lunch to talk about the third part of the trilogy after The Wog Boy in 2000 and Wog Boy 2: Kings of Mykonos in 2010, which together grossed over $15 million at the Australian box office.
Secretly, I was hoping for a tavern, but instead we settled into a nearby hotel restaurant.
“All the best Greek places in town are closed now; the only good food is at mom’s,” he laughs.
At 59, Giannopoulos is now more of a man than a boy but has lost none of his playful spirit, joking with waiters and feigning disappointment when I cannot remember the exact location of my father’s village in Athens: “You millennial Greeks, the absolute worst.
Like the first two films, Wog Boys Forever stars Giannopoulos as Steve Karamitsis, the former “unemployed Bludger” who now manages to make ends meet as a taxi driver. Vince Colosimo also returns as Steve’s best friend Frank, the Italian Stallion, while popular comedy trio Sooshi Mango make their big-screen debut.
While critics have long seemed unsure how to digest Giannopoulos’ work, The Wog Boy struck a chord with first and second generation migrants and the wider community. The public voted with their wallets and the film became an accidental cultural artifact.
The Wog Boy remains one of the most successful Australian films of all time, with a more lucrative opening weekend than Crocodile Dundee and banking over $11 million at the box office during its time in theaters.
This makes him all the more curious that when it comes to making Wog Boys forever, Giannopoulos was unable to secure any funding from Screen Australia or VicScreen.
“I approached VicScreen and Screen Australia, and they pushed me away, not a penny,” he says. “I went through the funding process like everyone else; you sit in front of a judging panel that basically tells you which movie they think you should do.
No matter what you think of Giannopoulos’ style, it’s hard to argue with the numbers.
“I have a commercial history of having made over $25 million at the Australian box office; this is the third movie of this type, i know the audience, i know what they want, but of course go ahead and tell me what you think it should be.
In the end, Giannopoulos invested $1 million of his own money to get Wog Boys Forever floor, but it left a sour taste in his mouth.
“All my life I’ve been dealing with these roadblocks, a bunch of white people telling me who to be, so it takes me right back to my childhood,” he says. “I don’t ask for a ticket for the start of the queue, but no reason, no explanation – you start thinking, they don’t want Wog Boy.”
It remains to be seen how the film will fare when it hits theaters nationwide on October 6, but Giannopoulos’ early attempts to recoup his investment through paid fan screenings look promising.
“We’ve already sold thousands of premiere tickets, but ask me if I want to do another Australian film? Not likely.”
Screen Australia would not comment on specific issues with the app, but a spokesperson said: “Wog Boys Forever did not receive funding from Screen Australia as it did not meet the assessment criteria. We cannot divulge the details of their application; however, if the filmmakers have any questions about the outcome, they should direct them to Screen Australia.
It is undeniable that the cultural landscape has changed considerably in the 22 years since the first Wog Boy film, but even then critics took issue with Giannopoulos’ use of stereotypes and politically incorrect jokes. Wog Boys Forever is full of the same kind of material, which may be harder to digest in the harsh light of 2022.
But at the same time, it’s hard to imagine a band like Sooshi Mango, who steals the show in the film, would exist if Giannopoulos hadn’t paved the way.
“I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but where’s the respect?” asks Giannopoulos. “It’s a film that has created 350 jobs during COVID, shows Melbourne beautifully and is an Australian film through and through.”
Breaking away from the big screen may seem like a drastic decision, but it may open the door to a return to TV. Giannopoulos created the much-loved sitcom Acropolis nowwhich helped bring it to a national audience and ran for five seasons on Channel 7 between 1989 and 1992.
With reboots being popular in today’s landscape, maybe it’s time to go back to where it all began.
“Look, I’m not a fan of reboots; they’re never as good as the original, and you risk tarnishing what you had,” says Giannopoulos.
Giannopoulos says he likes to look forward, not back. But right now, he says with his characteristic smile, “I have a film to sell”.
Wog Boys Forever hits theaters October 6.
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