The grassroots campaign for Jeremy Sims’ Last Cab to Darwin has paid off handsomely as the drama starring Michael Caton, Mark Coles Smith, Jacki Weaver and Ningali Lawford-Wolf opened strongly last weekend.
Benefitting from extensive Q&A screenings across the country following the Sydney Film Festival premiere, the road movie starring Caton as a Broken Hill cabbie who learns he doesn’t have long to live and sets off for Darwin, fetched $1.14 million on 221 screens.
Adding $229,000 from previews, the total is nearly $1.4 million and the film ranked fourth behind Trainwreck, the second weekend of Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation and Fantastic Four.
“We’re thrilled the film has found the audience we hoped it would find and we’re hoping it will have long legs,” says Sims, who spent seven years developing, producing, directing and co-writing the film with Reg Cribb.
Sims and Caton took part in nearly 50 screenings in six weeks and sent video messages to a further 30-40 cinemas.
Last Cab will be launched internationally at festivals yet to be revealed, sold by French-based Films Distribution.
Icon Film Distribution initially had planned a mid-sized release but added prints due to demand from exhibitors, particularly the majors.
“We are extremely satisfied with the opening, which is 19 per cent above our $950,000 estimate,” Icon CEO Greg Hughes tells IF. “The tour by Jeremy and Michael has been extraordinarily successful.”
Hughes noted that 20 per cent of the gross came from independent cinemas, versus their usual market share of 10 per cent.
Attesting to its appeal in regional areas, the top-grossing cinema nationwide is in Ballarat with a weekend take of $17,000 and $20,000 with previews.
The film also got a boost from being the first title marketed through the Independent Cinemas Association of Australia’s My Cinema Premiere platform.
Sims is in talks to direct a couple of TV projects and is developing another feature with Cribb entitled Southern Haze, which is set in the Pilbara in the early 1960s.