Mixed openings for Mystery Road, Patrick

21 October, 2013 by Don Groves

Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road posted solid results on 16 screens  while Mark Hartley’s Patrick had a limited opening at six cinemas in Australia last weekend.

A crime thriller starring Aaron Pedersen, Mystery Road raked in about $60,000, which brings the total to $105,000 including previews and festival screenings.


“You always hope for more but it’s a good result,” said producer David Jowsey, who self-distributed the film through Dark Matter, a company he owns with Sen and Michael Wrenn. Melbourne-based Backlot Studios is handling the bookings, distribution veteran Alan Finney is a consultant and Tracey Mair co-ordinated the national marketing and publicity campaign.

Jowsey tells IF, “We had a very modest P&A spend, with no TV, and there was a lot of hard work in publicity at the grass roots level.”

Backlot is now arranging to release the film at around 30 locations in regional areas. Well Go plans to launch the film in the US in February.

Pedersen stars as Aboriginal detective Jay Swan, who returns to his small rural town after a stint in the city and is called on to investigate the murder of a teenage Aboriginal girl. The ensemble cast includes Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson, Ryan Kwanten, Tony Barry, Tasma Walton, Damian Walshe-Howling, David Field, Robert Mammone and newcomer Trisha Whitton.

Umbrella Entertainment opened Patrick at a handful of independent cinemas, grossing $2,654, after it was turned down by the major exhibitors and larger art house chains. It’s playing at the Cinema Nova, the George Revival Cinema and Sun in Melbourne, Hoyts Cinema Paris and Golden Age cinemas in Sydney and in Mount Barker in the Adelaide Hills. This week it will open on two screens in Tasmania.

Producer Antony Ginnane tells IF he had “no expectations theatrically” in Australia, given the vast majority of films in the horror/thriller genre do not perform well in cinemas with a few notable exceptions such as Greg Mclean’s Wolf Creek and James Wan’s The Conjuring.

Patrick had its world premiere at the 2013 Melbourne International Film Festival where the film starring Charles Dance, Sharni Vinson and Rachel Griffiths was widely praised by audiences and critics.

Ginnane is convinced the festival exposure and limited cinema release have created a “branding, reviews and media commentary” which will pay off when the title is available on DVD and V0D.

“We remade Patrick with a financial plan that accepts the reality that Australia is 4-8% of the world market,” says Ginnane, who produced the original Patrick (1978), which made $300,000 in Australian cinemas but earned a healthy $3 million in international sales.

“Like the original, I always expected the 2013 Patrick, like Daybreakers, Bait etc to make the vast majority of its revenue gross and net from the rest of the word. We are well on the way to that with sales to the US, German-speaking territories and Latin America. The UK and Japan are circling but not yet signed and by the end of the American Film Market I expect sales to Spain, Italy and Russia.”

He said Umbrella put up a “reasonable” six-figure minimum guarantee and spent just on six figures on P&A, which he describes as a prudent strategy.

The B.O. performance of Patrick has reignited the industry debate on release windows, particularly the 120-day gap between theatrical and home entertainment.

“Day-and-date release or small theatrical to generate interest followed immediately by VOD is the answer…makes a lot more sense,” says Australian writer-director Eva Orner, whose documentary The Network, set behind the scenes at the largest television network in Afghanistan, just won best feature doc prize at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis, Indiana.