October has been an uneventful month for Australian films with a handful of new theatrical releases plus holdover business for the September debutantes.
Through October 25 Oz films and feature docs collectively have raked in $47 million so far this year, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA). That excludes some previews and earnings from festival screenings.
So 2017 has already eclipsed the dismal 2016 calendar year total of $24.1 million.
Whether Oz cinema can finish the year at, say, $55 million will hinge largely on Ben Elton’s romantic comedy Three Summers, which is getting a wide release on November 2 via Transmission, and Greg McLean’s survival thriller Jungle, which Umbrella Entertainment will launch on 28 screens on November 9.
Also upcoming is Priscilla Cameron’s critically-lauded The Butterfly Tree, which debuts on November 23 via Vendetta Films, and John V. Soto’s sci-fi thriller The Gateway, which opens on December 7 via Rialto.
None of the October titles which had conventional releases, Karina Holden’s marine doco Blue (Transmission), David Pulbrook’s thriller Bad Blood (Potential) and Romi Trower’s What If It Works? (Label), made much impression.
Bill Bennett’s feature doc PGS – Intuition is your Personal Guidance System has been available on-demand in cinemas via Fan-Force since October 11, the first stage of a global multi-platform release planned by the filmmaker.
Distributed by Madman Entertainment, Jen Peedom’s Mountain is the stand-out of the past two months, beating Damon Gameau’s That Sugar Film and Sunny Abberton and Macario De Souza’s Bra Boys, which both made $1.7 million, to become the highest-grossing Oz feature doc of all time, excluding IMAX. It has amassed nearly $2 million, including receipts from 13 live performances by the Australian Chamber Orchestra.
Apart from Mountain and Jeffrey Walker’s Ali’s Wedding (Madman), which launched on August 31 and has raked in a sturdy $1.2 million, September was a quiet month with the releases of Rhiannon Bannenberg’s Rip Tide, Gregory Erdstein’s That’s Not Me, Sera Davies’ Namatjira Project and Kriv Stenders’ Right Here: The Go-Betweens and his Australia Day, which pioneered the premium VOD model.
As IF has noted, the line-up for 2018 looks impressive and potentially very commercial, given the creative talent involved in Garth Davis’ Mary Magdalene, Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale and Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country (all Transmission), Simon Baker’s Breath (Roadshow), Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai (Icon), Ben Howling and Yolande Ramke’s Cargo (Umbrella), the Spierig brothers’ Winchester and Shawn Seet’s Storm Boy (both StudioCanal), and Stephan Elliott’s Swinging Safari (Becker Film Group).
View the scorecard here.