Aussie drama Red Dog has passed local classics Shine and The Castle at the box office, to become the 21st biggest Australian film of all time.

The feel-good film, about a hitchhiking dog that unites an isolated mining town, posted another strong performance in its fourth weekend, raking in $1.9 million from 257 screens. The film had a screen average of $7548, but unlike past weeks, the result was down (13 per cent). It's now grossed $10.5 million.

It has, as a result, passed a number of classic Australian films including The Castle ($10.3m), Shine ($10.2m), Pharlap ($9.3m), The Man Who Sued God ($8.5m) and Babe: Pig In The City ($7.8).

Directed by Kriv Stenders (Boxing Day), Red Dog was filmed in the Pilbara region of Western Australia and in parts of South Australia.

Melbourne rom-com Big Mamma’s Boy posted a 19 per cent increase for Madman, taking in $9282 from just eight screens. It has now grossed $268,030 at the local box office.

Melbourne-shot horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark opened at number three in the US with $US8,689,317 from 2760 theatres, according to Rentrak.

The film, produced by Guillermo del Toro and starring Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes, currently has a November 3 release date in Australia, however the project keeps getting pushed back for release, initially due to Disney’s sale of Miramax. Hopscotch Films ended up acquiring the rights to Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, which is a remake of a 1970s horror film.

In other box office news, Warner Bros-distributed comedy Horrible Bosses led the way, grossing $3.2 million from 339 screens. The black comedy film, starring Jason Bateman, centres on three friends who plan on murdering their bosses.

Other mainstreams films didn’t fare well in their second weekends at the local box office, with Friends With Benefits and Cowboys & Aliens both posting half their earnings from their opening weekend. Friends With Benefits, distributed by Sony Pictures, grossed just $1.3 million – a 44 per cent drop on last week, while Cowboys & Aliens took in $1 million – a 50 per cent drop.

In their opening weekend, Sony’s Priest took in $312,009 from 104 screens, while Entertainment One/Hopscotch’s Beginners made $142,389 from 25 screens. The Guard, written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, made $296,807 across 49 screens – giving the controversial film a $6057 screen average. To read the interview IF conducted with McDonagh, click here.

Australian films at the box office 2011

 Opening w/e
 Opening w/e screen avg (screens)
 Box Office
Red Dog
$8.5m est.
$7365 (245)
$6329 (252)
Oranges and Sunshine
$6676 (102)
Mrs. Carey's Concert
Music Films
$6983 (9)
$2.5m est.
$10,567 (16)
Mad Bastards
$3022 (27)
Sleeping Beauty
$10m est.
$5850 (12)
Big Mamma's Boy
$3230 (33)
Griff The Invisible
$3317 (20)
Wasted On The Young
$979 (54)
The Reef
$1616 (36)
A Heartbeat Away
$574 (77)
Pack Screen
$2466 (5)
Cane Toads: The Conquest
$376 (27)
Here I Am
$1665 (7)
$1722 (6)
Oakie's Outback Adventures
$1472 (2)

Source: MPDAA, IF

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