Alternate content releases run the gauntlet
‘Koko: A Red Dog Story.’
Alternate content releases Koko: A Red Dog Story, Standing Up for Sunny and A Boy Called Sailboat premiered in Australian cinemas last weekend, together with the conventionally-released Kairos.
It is difficult to judge the box office results given the limited number of sessions and screens, but all faced the challenge of going into the market with minimal marketing support and publicity.
The third edition of the Red Dog franchise from writers and directors Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce had the widest release on more than 80 screens, distributed by Roadshow Films and producer Nelson Woss’s Good Dog Distribution.
Last week Woss told IF he was encouraged by the responses from test screenings in Indianapolis and charity previews in Perth. But he acknowledged there were no ads on TV or in newspapers and no billboards, bus shelters or buses for the the low-budget film co-funded by Screen Australia, Screenwest and Lotterywest.
Hence the first weekend takings of $23,000 were very modest. One of the participating exhibitors, Majestic Cinemas’ Kieren Dell, says: “Koko was a hard sell at this time of year for only a few sessions, but those that were interested had the opportunity to see it.”
Still, Woss can hope for some upside from a free TV sale in Australia and the US sale of the film featuring Felix Williamson, Toby Truslove and Sarah Woods to Samuel Goldwyn Films.
Today he said: “Koko will have a legacy and a long tail as part of the franchise. I made it as a love letter to my mate and to raise money for dog shelters. We’ve raised $100,000.”
Referring to alternant content releases generally, Dell observes: “It is difficult for these micro Australian releases to get into cinemas and get awareness out there. Films that want a cinema release really have to have more of a marketing effort and spend behind them – it’s not enough to make a good film and to get the talent out and about. There needs to be something to cut through to get bums on seats.”
However Dell was delighted with the turnout at his Port Macquarie cinema last Friday night for a Q&A session for Steven Vidler’s Standing Up for Sunny attended by the filmmakers.
The producers, Ticket to Ride’s Drew Bailey, Jamie Hilton and Michael Pontin also staged a red carpet opening night and filmmaker Q&A at Dendy Newtown last Thursday and another in Brisbane on Saturday.
The gross to date is $3,600 and The Backlot is hosting a series of fan-force screenings of the romantic comedy from December 18.
Breaking Bad’s RJ Mitte stars as Travis, a young man who has low-grade cerebral palsy and discovers he has a gift for stand-up comedy after coming to the aid of Sunny (Philippa Northeast), a free-spirited barmaid and aspiring comedian who is heckled in the local pub.
‘Standing Up for Sunny.’
The supporting cast includes Sam Reid, Radha Mitchell, Barry Humphries, Arj Barker, Akmal Saleh and Becky Lucas.
From Melbourne-based writer-director Cameron Nugent and producer Andrew Curry, A Boy Called Sailboat is a whimsical comedy-drama set in America’s Deep South where a loving Hispanic family accept an impossible blessing and name their only son ‘Sailboat.’
The family-friendly film starring Academy Award ® winner J.K. Simmons, Noel Gugliemi, Elizabeth De Razzo, Jake Busey and newcomer Julian Atoconi Sanchez, which was executive produced by Sullivan Stapleton, rang up $2,000 on 10 screens and $11,000 with advance screenings. It will open exclusively in Melbourne at Cinema Nova on Boxing Day.
Pinnacle Films and Sloane Street Films launched Paul Barakat’s drama Kairos on six screens, making $3,100, following its Melbourne International Film Festival premiere.
Chris Bunton (Little Monsters) plays Danny, who sees boxing as a way to earn respect, confidence and acceptance and to prove that he’s more than his disability of Down Syndrome. Ex-fighter and trainer John (Jerome Pride) takes Danny under his wing but their mentoring relationship takes a beating when a sparring session gets out of hand.