Jen Peedom’s innovative cinematic and musical odyssey Mountain ranks as the third-highest grossing Australian feature documentary ever, excluding IMAX, after launching on 30 screens last Thursday.

Distributed by Madman Entertainment, the doc saw ticket sales rise each day following 13 live performances around Australia by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, which recorded the score by Richard Tognetti.

Meanwhile Kriv Stenders’ Australia Day, the first film released under the premium VOD model introduced by Dendy/Icon and Foxtel, opened at 13 screens via Icon.

The 4-day gross of $8,600 for the drama starring Bryan Brown, Shari Sebbens, Sean Keenan, Matthew Le Nevez, Daniel Webber and Elias Anton wasn’t terrific but the film is assured of a two-week cinema run and no one should jump to conclusions as this is uncharted territory in Oz.

Among the other Aussie titles in release, Jeffrey Walker’s Ali’s Wedding reached $830,000 after making $81,000 in its fourth weekend on 45 screens for Madman.

Positioned as the only title appealing to teenage girls during the holidays, Rhiannon Bannenberg’s Rip Tide fetched $48,000 in its second frame on 73, tallying $129,000 for Umbrella Entertainment.

Produced by Stranger Than Fiction Films’ Jo-anne McGowan and written by Robert MacFarlane, author of Mountains of the Mind, Mountain grossed $100,000 from Thursday-Sunday, which brings the total to $1.58 million including the live performances.

So the film has surpassed Peedom’s Sherpa, which made $1.27 million, and could well beat Damon Gameau’s That Sugar Film and Sunny Abberton and Macario De Souza’s Bra Boys, which both made $1.7 million.

“I never expected Mountain to be such a hit,” Peedom tells IF today before heading off to the San Sebastian Film Festival. “It started out as a creative, fun side project.

“It’s a testament to our partnership with the ACO and shows people are up for a different kind of experience. It’s a pleasant surprise.”

Madman MD Paul Wiegard said, “It has been a bespoke release campaign for a remarkable film that demands to be seen on the big screen, with each phase broadening the audience reach.”

The international sales agent Dogwoof pre-sold the film to Germany’s DCM and will release theatrically in the UK. Submarine Entertainment is handling US rights.

Scripted by Stephen M Irwin and produced by Hoodlum Entertainment for Foxtel, Australia Day will be available to rent online on Foxtel Store and on Dendy Direct on September 27.

So the success or otherwise will hinge on the VOD revenues and the receipts from the two-week cinema run.

Dendy/Icon and Foxtel have at least five titles lined up for that pipeline before the Christmas holidays.

“The commercial metrics for this approach are a combination of all first window revenues (GBO and premium VOD),” Dendy/Icon CEO Greg Hughes tells IF.

“The other point to make is that we intend to distribute a diverse range of niche content over the next few months so we can learn more about how to optimise the model and what types of content work best. Avoiding premature judgements and hasty conclusions is key in this phase.”

The reviews were decidedly mixed. The Australian’s David Stratton hailed a breathtakingly fast-moving, very well-made thriller which he likened to Run Lola Run meets Gran Torino.

Fairfax Media’s Paul Byrnes rated the film as a “few cans short of a barbecue“ but said Stenders injects pace, energy and drive and Bryan Brown’s towering presence lends a certain grace as an old warrior on hard times.

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  1. It would be very helpful for the industry (producers, distributors, etc) to know of the Production and Marketing budgets of these films, along side the Gross Box Office receipts.

  2. I know I’ll be in a tiny minority here, if not totally alone, but I must say I found the soundtrack to MOUNTAIN unbearable. It was unrelenting and over the top, and never for one second, or so it felt, did it shut up. I was dying for some silence to enjoy the imagery, but no, silence never came. Which is ironic really, because one of the great pleasures in being in the mountains is the silence.

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