The Eye of the Storm posts strong opening for Transmission

19 September, 2011 by Sam Dallas

Fred Schepisi’s latest film The Eye of the Storm has narrowly defeated Snowtown in posting this year’s highest opening weekend screen average for an Australian film.

The Eye of the Storm, based on the classic Patrick White novel, raked in $196,250 on just 18 screens, giving it a very healthy screen average of $10,903.


The limited-release Paramount/Transmission drama, starring Geoffrey Rush, Judy Davis and Charlotte Rampling, is Schepisi’s first local flick since 1988 feature Evil Angels, starring Meryl Streep. It’s written by acclaimed screenwriter Judy Morris (Babe: Pig In The City, Happy Feet).

The opening weekend box office result has Transmission Films’ co-managing director Richard Payten ecstatic.

“To achieve the highest screen average in such a stellar year for local films is very special. It is also gratifying to see the film embraced so warmly at the Toronto International Film Festival where it was sold out for all screenings,” he said in a statement.

Produced by Antony Waddington, Gregory Read, and Schepisi (who has given a verbal indication that he will direct The Drowner), The Eye of the Storm sees struggling theatre actor Sir Basil (Rush) and divorced French princess Dorothy (Davis) returning to the deathbed of their wealthy, emotionally-distant mother Elizabeth (Rampling).

Controversial thriller Snowtown, directed by Justin Kurzel, opened across 16 screens in May this year, taking in $169,072 (giving it a screen average of $10,567). In comparison, Red Dog posted an opening screen average of $7365 (on 245 screens), Oranges and Sunshine posted $6676 (on 102 screens) and Sanctum had $6329 (on 252 screens).

In other box office news, Australia’s favourite film of the year, Red Dog, is finally starting to slow down a little, adding a further $817,001 from 259 screens (down 35 per cent in revenue from last weekend). In its seventh week, the drama has now taken an impressive $16 million.

Sony Pictures' 3D family comedy The Smurfs opened at number one on 458 screens over the weekend, grossing $2.6 million.

Also in its opening week, Rowan Atkinson's latest comedy Johnny English: Reborn grossed just $20,000 less than The Smurfs, but did it on just 293 screens – giving it a screen average of $8653. Warner Bros' black comedy Horrible Bosses placed third on the weekend in its fourth week ($895,604 from 275 screens), Red Dog placed fourth, and massive success story The Help rounded out the top five ($801,501 from 221 screens).

In limited releases, Madman's Submarine took in $64,107 across 18 screens, Beginners grossed $42,159 from 22 screens, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan made $37,156 from 13 screens while 13 Assassins grossed $31,455 for Icon.

For a full feature on The Eye of the Storm, pick up a copy of the August/September issue of IF Magazine.

Australian films at the box office 2011

Source: MPDAA, IF, Transmission Films