Underwater thriller Sanctum has overtaken George Miller’s Babe: Pig In The City to become the ninth highest-grossing local film at the international box office.

The $30 million Alister Grierson film, backed by Hollywood legend James Cameron (Avatar, Titanic, Aliens, Terminator), has now taken $US71.2 million worldwide following its release last month.

Shot by cinematographer Jules O'Loughlin ACS, Sanctum has done particularly well overseas, including taking almost $US6 million in Brazil, almost $US3 million in Hong Kong, more than $US4 million in Spain and more than $US23 million in the United States.

Down Under the 3D film, starring Richard Roxburgh, has taken $3.8 million.

The story follows master diver Frank McGuire (Roxburgh) and his 17-year-old son Josh (Rhys Wakefield) who become trapped with their team while exploring the South Pacific’s Esa’ala caves.

Miller has three movies in the top 10, including Happy Feet at the top ($US384.3 million), Babe ($US254.1 million) – which he co-wrote and co-produced but did not direct – and Babe: Pig In The City ($US69.1 million).

The top ten highest-grossing local films at the international box office are:

Happy Feet (2006) – $US384.3 million
Crocodile Dundee (1986) – $US328.2 million
Babe (1995) – $US254.1 million
Crocodile Dundee II (1988) – $US239.6 million
Australia (2008) – $US211.3 million
Knowing (2009) – $US183.6 million
Moulin Rouge! (2001) – $US179.2 million
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010) – $US140 million
Sanctum (2011) – $US71.2 million
Babe: Pig In The City (1998) – $US69.1 million

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  1. Let’s face facts. The only reason Sanctum is making any money at all is due to James Cameron’s name being plastered all over the advertising. “¿Quién es esta persona Grierson?”. It’s hard to find a positive review for it anywhere in the known universe.
    The only thing i liked about it at all was the underwater cinematography by Simon Christidis. This film had so much potential that if you think 70 million is a successful outcome you need your head examined. Just imagine how much money it would have made if it was any good.

  2. In reply to J.Jamison, $70m is a great result! And god bless James Cameron for lending his support to a film that employed Australians and allowed them to show their talents to the world. This film is an amazing technical achievement, and one we’re all very proud of.
    As for the underwater cinematography, this is the work of the director of photography Jules O’Loughlin. Apart from a couple of second unit shots, Simon Christidis was the underwater operator . How do I know this? Because I was on set every day.

  3. Yes, congrats to the Sanctum team, an awesome effort!

    The film will absolutely kill it on dvd and cable, with millions of $$$ to roll in – looks like Sanctum is going to be one of those rare Aussie films that actually makes a profit!

  4. Erm, i think you’d better be careful calling Christidis an “underwater operator” – even if purely from a political point of view. Christidis is listed as “Underwater Cinematographer” How do I know this? I downloaded the credit list from the Sanctum website. Dangerous ground for an ‘associate producer’ to be contradicting the credit list of a 30 million dollar feature eh? Maybe you’ll want to talk to your boss before replying again.
    Ok, ill concede that making 70 million from a universally panned film is an achievement (of sorts). What I’m saying is that if the film had a better script, better acting, better direction, and better use of 3D then the film could be making 6-7 times that amount. Let’s put it this way, Sanctum is so bad that even a terrible movie such as The Roommate earned more ($36 million in the domestic (US) market compared to Sanctum’s $23 million) – and The Roommate didn’t have the benefit of Cameron’s name, 3D gimmicks, 40% producer offset, and income from IMAX screenings (and it only cost half as much!)
    In fact The Roommate is still screening while Sanctum has curled up in the foetal position and resigned itself to ‘killing it’ on DVD (no doubt it will make a few more millions).
    I saw Sanctum and I want my money back. I got more joy from reading the scathing reviews in Time, Variety, Roger Ebert, and the Hollywood Reporter. It’s a sad reality of the world that the brilliant, critically praised 127 Hours can only make 18mill domestic (US) compared to this muck.
    And no, im not knocking australian films…I bloody love the good ones such as David Michod’s Animal Kingdom, Sean Bryne’s The Loved Ones, Iven Sven’s Beneath Clouds (and anything by George Miller).
    There’s a lot of talent in Australia and it’s a pity they don’t get the attention they deserve sometimes.

    With any luck Sanctum should pick up a few Razzie Awards in 2012

    “It’s admittedly hard not to think of 127 Hours while watching Sanctum unfold.
    But where the Danny Boyle film created unbearable tension through an economy of dialogue and skilled filmmaking, Alister Grierson’s second feature effort (after 2006’s fact-based war story, Kokoda) suffers from a talky script and thematics that play out more like The Poseidon Adventure minus the camp guilty pleasure aspect.” – Hollywood Reporter

  5. Congratulations! Excellent achivement! Let’s face it, regardless of what people are saying about James Cameron being the only reason this has made money, it’s made money. Hollywood makes money from average movies and fantastic marketing all the time. I’m not saying this is an average movie, I actually really enjoyed it, but even if James cameron was the main reason this made money – I’d say great work to the Australian producers. Very clever work. Making money at the box-office is tough, so any film that does it, regardless of how they do it, is a success and deserves to be celebrated. If Australia is to become more commerically successful we need more thinking like this. Line up another produciton with James Cameron!

  6. Pretty good for an full Australian movie with Australian actors and Australian accents about a cave diving

  7. Babe pig in the city was awesome. A pig that can talk! in the city! AWESOME!

    This movie about cave diving has no pigs so no good.

    Now a pig cave diving…

  8. A movie about cave diving made with the script writing skill of cave men. an awful film that looked good,along with Australia which was also in that list.

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