By Simon de Bruyn

Love the Beast took $49,544 on 58 screens over the weekend, with key drive-in sites such as Blacktown, Ipswich and Coburg contributing “massive results” to the current $717,737 total, according to distributor Madman Entertainment.

The Eric Bana-directed doco is the second highest grossing Australian doco (non IMAX) ever, and 53rd highest doco overall, just behind 42 Up.

Madman theatrical distribution manager James Hewison said his team was pleased with the film’s performance so far, especially as the first quarter of this year was expected to be very tough after a low box office year for Australian films in 2008.

“We are heartened by the performance as we put a lot of effort into that campaign, and when you release an Australian film it is a spin of the roulette wheel at the best of times. We are pretty pleased with its longevity so far, which will continue when the film gets released on DVD and so forth, where it will find a whole new audience,” he said.

The Combination’s small and targeted release also seems to be paying off, with the film taking in a further $18,000 on 20 screens over its sixth weekend in cinemas, according to MPDAA figures.

The $1.32 million film is now nudging $700,000 and will expand to 25 screens over Easter, adding a range of regionals including Eaglehawk, Narooma and Yamba.

The distributors are understood to be in negotiations with WA exhibitors to expand the film there, after Disney’s Perth-based boxing drama Two Fists One Heart effectively ‘blocked out’ that state to smaller competition like The Combination.

Two Fists is no longer in cinemas after returning a weak $233,000. Another low performer, Beautiful, returned on two screens this past weekend, after a week off, taking a further $1,762 for a total of $49,685.

Eight new films will open in cinemas over the Easter long weekend, including Adam Elliot’s much anticipated claymation feature Mary and Max.

After touring the country for a range of preview screenings, the film will be released on 50 screens nationally on April 9, with regional and RDSN expansion to follow.

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