Australian films first quarter scorecard: Tough going except for ‘Peter Rabbit’ and ‘Sweet Country’

03 April, 2018 by Don Groves

‘Peter Rabbit.’

Eighteen feature films and feature documentaries were released in Australian cinemas in the first quarter of this year, including a handful that had limited exposure via Q&A screenings.

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The two stand-outs were the Animal Logic Entertainment co-produced Peter Rabbit and Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country.

The new releases plus holdovers racked up $10.8 million through March 28, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA).

Any comparison with the first quarter of 2017 is invidious because Garth Davis’ Lion amassed $29.5 million a year ago.

So the industry has a long way to go to match the 2017 calendar year total of $49.4 million, a market share of 4.1 per cent, which was precisely in line with the 10-year average.

Directed by Will Gluck, Peter Rabbit scored $4.8 million in its first week and was the No. 1 title over the Easter break, reaching $10.2 million on Monday.

Released by Sony, the live action/CGI animated family film has hauled in $US230.7 million worldwide, including $120.1 million from international markets. France opens next weekend followed by South Korea and Japan in May.

Distributed by Transmission Films, Sweet Country is nearing the end of its run after earning $1.9 million on the back of strong reviews and word of mouth.

Launched on 170 screens by the Becker Film Group, Stephan Elliott’s Swinging Safari made $1.6 million, nowhere near enough to justify the ambitious P&A spend.

The Spierig brothers’ Winchester also under-performed at home, released by StudioCanal, but the supernatural thriller grossed a decent $US25 million in the US for Lionsgate.

Stephen Amis’ comedy The BBQ achieved moderate results for Tait Brady’s Label/Madman Entertainment while director Clay Glen’s Going for Gold bombed for Pinnacle, with one exhibitor blaming the dire reviews and lack of marketing/publicity.

Garth Davis’ Mary Magdalene took a meagre $300,000 in its first week on 117 screens for Transmission and there was no sign of an Easter miracle as it reached $429,000 on Monday. Internationally, the See-Saw Films/Porchlight production has raked in just $US8.3 million in 37 markets, according to Deadline.com.

An alternate content release, Dean Murphy’s That’s Not My Dog! had a brief cinema release but premiered on Stan on March 31 and will have an accelerated roll-out on home entertainment starting on May 9.

Transmission Films’ co-founder Andrew Mackie says that is a profitable model and he is discussing a follow-up with the filmmakers.

Kimble Rendall’s action-adventure Guardians of the Tomb had a wide release in China, grossing a modest $US7.4 million, but barely caused a ripple here, limited to the Chinese cinema circuit by Asia Releasing.

Director Paul Currie’s 2.22, a New York-set romantic thriller starring Teresa Palmer, Michiel Huisman and Sam Reid, was the first premium VOD release this year. The entire viability of that model is uncertain unless or until Dendy Direct, Foxtel and distributors reveal total revenues.

The feature documentaries including Mick McIntyre and Kate McIntyre Clere’s Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story, Mat de Koning’s Meal Tickets and Warwick Thornton’s We Don’t Need a Map had limited theatrical exposure.

The highest-grosser was MAMIL (Middle Aged Men in Lycra!), Nickolas Bird and Eleanor Sharpe’s documentary which followed men from the UK, US and Australia who took up cycling in unique or difficult circumstances. Released by Demand Film, it grossed $115,000, according to Numero.

The upcoming line-up may not generate a Lion-type monster hit but Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, Simon Baker’s Breath, Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai, Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black, Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner’s Nekromancer and Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding all have commercial elements.

Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters, Marion Pilowsky’s The Call Back, Ben Hackworth’s Celeste, Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke’s Cargo, Shawn Seet’s Storm Boy, Grant Sputore’s I am Mother and Partho Sen-Gupta’s Slam are among others which could break through.

View the scorecard here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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