A still from Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead. 

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead was the most downloaded film globally last weekend, according to one torrent site, after being launched in the US on iTunes on Friday.

The rampant piracy dismays Kiah Roache-Turner, who made his feature debut directing the Zombie horror/comedy, co-written and produced with his brother Tristan.

The saga of mechanic Barry (Jay Gallagher), who loses his family in an Apocalypse then sets out with best mate Benny (Leon Burchill) to find his missing sister (Bianca Bradey), it had one-off screenings at 76 cinemas nationally last Friday night.

Distributed by Studiocanal, the film grossed $85,000, which brings its total to $124,000 including the proceeds from five Moonlight Cinema screenings.

As an alternate content title, it will be released on DVD and on digital platforms on April 2. While that’s faster than the traditional 120- day holdback, it’s not fast enough for the brothers.

“Until we can release films here (on all platforms) on the same day as the US, we’re stuffed,” Kiah tells IF. “The windows are a dinosaur. The April 2 release is a step in the right direction but it means we will be sitting around for two months watching money leak out."

The TorrentDay site listed Wyrmwood as the No. 1 title downloaded worldwide, ahead of Constantine, Grimm and 12 Monkeys.

His message to those who have downloaded the film: “If you like it, please buy a copy. We made it on a deferred fee basis, meaning no one has been paid yet."

Turner-Roache is realistic enough to know there won't be any significant movement towards flexible release windows until the major exhibition chains give their consent. 

The shoot cost $160,000 but by the time the film was completed and distributed the total outlay was $1 million. It will continue to play in Australian cinemas via the FanForce on-demand platform, with requests so far for at least seven screenings.

Kiah attended a Q&A screening at Dendy Newtown and was delighted with the turn-out around the country. “We had a minimal ad campaign so we relied on social media and the buzz surrounding the film, and we got a lot of people at the screenings,” he said.

IFC Midnight launched the film in six or seven cinemas and on digital platforms including iTunes in the US. 

In a rave review, the New York Times' Jennifer Catsoulis observed, "Like greyhounds after the hare, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead bursts out of the gate panting and doesn’t let up. The hare in this case is a mysterious zombie plague that follows a meteor shower in the Australian outback, and the greyhounds are a pair of siblings whose particular talents — one artisanal, the other supernormal — prove especially useful in battling the undead.

"Filming mostly on weekends over three and a half years, the director, Kiah Roache-Turner (who wrote the script with his brother Tristan), exhibits a blithe, go-for-broke style that doesn’t hang about to commiserate over the infected or ingested.

"Ambulant corpses may be tramping all over our movie and television screens these days, but Wyrmwood has enough novelty — and more than enough energy — to best its minuscule budget."

Meanwhile Kiah is 37 pages into his next project, which he likens to a dark, R-rated version of Ghostbusters.

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