Opening on 250-plus screens on August 27, the day after its CinefestOZ premiere at Orana Cinemas in Busselton, Jeremy Sims’ RAMS will be the first Australian wide release since cinemas re-opened.
Claire Gandy, Event Cinemas general manager, film and content, has seen the movie starring Michael Caton, Sam Neill and Miranda Richardson and is super confident of its commercial prospects.
“The audiences are going to be 100 per cent behind RAMS and many of the other upcoming Australian films,” Gandy said in a webinar with Screen Producers Australia CEO Matt Deaner.
“We forget what it’s like to watch a great Australian film in cinema. There are some great scenes in RAMS which on a big screen are going to look fantastic. I look forward to the celebration of Australian film, whenever that may start.”
Produced by Aidan O’Bryan and Janelle Landers, the Roadshow release, a remake of a cult Icelandic film follows Neill and Caton as estranged brothers, sheep farmers Colin and Les.
When Les’s prize ram is diagnosed with a rare and lethal illness, authorities order a purge of every sheep in the valley. While Colin attempts to outwit the powers that be, Les opts for angry defiance.
The supporting cast includes Wayne Blair, Leon Ford, Travis McMahon, Asher Keddie, Hayley McElhinney, Kipan Rothbury and newcomers Asher Yasbincek and Will McNeill.
In the meantime, audiences can look forward to seeing Babyteeth, Shannon Murphy’s bittersweet comedy starring Ben Mendelsohn, Essie Davis, Eliza Scanlen and Toby Wallace, which opens this Thursday via Universal Pictures.
Gandy said she is disappointed to see a number of Australian, US and UK films bypass cinemas and go straight to digital or streamers, but she fully understands the commercial rationale while BO takings are depressed.
“I’m a bit devastated and I weep when I think of the box-office potential but I see the back-end and there is a machine of people that have to be paid,” she said.
“It would have been great to have a slate of Australian films to support the re-opening of cinemas but I do understand the caution of [distributors and producers] thinking ‘are we really going to get the box-office that we really want for this film?'”
But Gandy said she does not think that films screening on the SVOD services harms ticket sales, telling Deaner: “What we found pre-COVID, and I think is still the case, is that people who watch Netflix and Amazon and the others, they’re the ones who are coming to the cinema most.”
Deaner referred to the commercial damage to cinemas during the lockdown and businesses like Event Cinemas having to stand down staff and rely on JobKeeper, observing: “There is a bit of a crisis looming if we haven’t got a way of supporting cinema into the future.”
She said the company had spoken to the major distributors after the shut down about jointly mounting a “back to cinema” marketing campaign but it proved too difficult to agree on the key message. Event Cinemas, where tickets are half price, is operating at between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of capacity.
Gandy is confident the first big Hollywood title – hopefully Chris Nolan’s thriller Tenet on August 13- will see people start to return to cinemas in large numbers.
In the US the Warner Bros. release, which originally was dated for July 17 and then moved to August 12, is now undated with cinemas in New York and Los Angeles closed due to the coronavirus.
However the film starring Michael Caine, Kenneth Branagh, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Robert Pattinson and Elizabeth Debicki may still roll out in at least some overseas markets.
“We will share a new 2020 release date imminently for Tenet, Christopher Nolan’s wholly original and mind-blowing feature,” said WB Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich.
“We are not treating Tenet like a traditional global day-and-date release, and our upcoming marketing and distribution plans will reflect that.”