The local feature films and feature documentaries released in cinemas in the first four months of this year, plus a few holdovers, have collectively grossed $32 million.
That looks impressive but for the fact that 80 per cent of the total was generated by Peter Rabbit, while Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country has pocketed nearly $2 million.
Apart from Stephan Elliott’s Swinging Safari, which made $1.6 million, nowhere near enough to justify Becker Film Group’s ambitious P&A spend, no other title has cracked $1 million so far this year, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia.
Garth Davis’ Mary Magdalene is probably the biggest disappointment given the credentials of the director, producers See-Saw Films and Porchlight Films and the support of Transmission Films.
The Biblical saga starring Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix clearly appealed neither to the faithful nor the secular community, resulting in a gross of $541,000.
Most of the other new titles went out on limited screens with minimal marketing support, underlining the challenges faced by indie films of all stripes.
Co-produced by Animal Logic Entertainment, Peter Rabbit has raked in $25.4 million after its sixth weekend for Sony and is showing such strong legs it will easily surpass $30 million.
The Will Gluck-directed family film has amassed $US114.5 million in the US and $US205.4 million in the rest of the world.
Box office earnings abroad can help offset a poor domestic result, typified by the Spierig brothers’ Winchester. The supernatural thriller produced by Tim McGahan and Brett Tomberlin collected a modest $873,000 at home, released by StudioCanal, but more than $US50 million worldwide including $US25 million in the US.
The commercial prospects for the rest of this year look promising, starting with Simon Baker’s Breath, which Roadshow is launching on 240 screens on Thursday.
Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai, Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black, Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding, Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner’s Nekromancer, Kriv Stenders’ Danger Close and Owen Trevor’s Go Karts all have appealing elements.
Mirrah Foulkes’ Judy and Punch, Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters, Marion Pilowsky’s The Flip Side (formerly The Call Back), Ben Hackworth’s Celeste, Ben Howling and Yolande Ramke’s Cargo, Shawn Seet’s Storm Boy, Luke Sparke’s Occupation, Grant Sputore’s I am Mother and Partho Sen-Gupta’s Slam are among others which have break-out potential.
View the scorecard here.