The Rocket takes off in Oz

02 September, 2013 by Don Groves

Kim Mordaunt’s Laos-set feature The Rocket launched at 11 screens in Australia last weekend, making $55,000, the highest per-screen average of all the openers.

That brings its cumulative earnings to just under $150,000, including previews and well-received screenings at the Sydney and Melbourne film festivals.


“We’re thrilled with the figures; that gives us a great foothold as we add screens going into the September holidays,” said James Hewison, a consultant for distributor Curious Film. Curious is booking additional cinemas in outer suburban and regional areas, expanding to a maximum of 20 screens.

The plot revolves around  Ahlo (10-year-old Sitthiphon Disamoe), a twin, who fears he is cursed because his tribe is convinced twins bring bad luck. To try to disprove that belief, he sets out to build a giant rocket to compete in the lucrative but dangerous Rocket Festival.

The producers are hoping the film will be selected as Australia's nomination for the Oscar for best foreign-language feature.

Produced by Sylvia Wilczynski of Red Lamp Films, The Rocket  won the audience award at the Sydney Film Festival and was voted most popular feature at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Those gongs added to an impressive trophy cupboard: It nabbed best narrative feature, the audience award for best narrative film and best actor in a narrative feature for Disamoe at the TriBeca festival in New York.

At the Berlinale festival in February, it took the prizes for best first feature, the Amnesty International prize and the Crystal Bear for best feature in the Generation KPlus section.

"We've been thrilled with how the opening days have gone in Australia, meaning the film will expand onto more screens shortly," Sylvia told IF. "Most nights have been close to full houses and we hear reports of applause at a number of the screenings, virtually unheard of at a regular cinema screening."

Kino Lorber will release The Rocket theatrically in the US and Canada in the lead-up to Oscars season.