(L-to-r): Julian Assange's mother Christine (portrayed in the film by Rachel Griffiths), lead actor Alex Williams, and director Robert Connolly.
The theatrical event screening of Underground: The Julian Assange Story, which originally screened on the Ten Network last year, sold out Melbourne's Cinema Nova on Sunday night and grossed approximately $3000.
It is a promising start for Robert Connolly's CinemaPlus distribution venture, which plans to broaden traditional theatrical screenings into live events, including director and cast Q&A sessions, live musical performances, and political action forums.
Underground, the story of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, filled the approximate 250-seat Cinema Nova opening screening, which was followed by a Q&A session with director Robert Connolly, Christine Assange (Julian Assange’s mother), and actor Alex Williams. The audience also received a special CD-ROM which contained the screenplay, soundtrack, and a book, as well as a QR Code which could be scanned, triggering simultaneous playback of the director's commentary for those who had seen the telemovie previously. Connolly said the $3000 box office was profitable after CinemaLive struck a good deal with cinema owners.
“It was a fun night – we ended up in the Nova Cinema Bar until they kicked us out… a lot of people from WikiLeaks came down and were selling t-shirts, handing out membership forms for the political party,” Connolly said.
Connolly asked the audience how many had seen the TV screening (seen by an estimated 1.7 million viewers including catch-up and repeat screenings) and estimated that only about 10 per cent put up their hands.
Connolly also plans to distribute upcoming films such as musical The Boy Castaways and The Turning (co-distributed with Madman Entertainment) through the new event-focused CinemaLive venture.
“How do you engage with audiences who can pirate anything? The cinema experience has to be different.”
FURTHER UNDERGROUND SCREENINGS
- Cinema Nova, Melbourne: 6.45pm Tuesday 19 to Friday 22 March
- Palace Brighton Bay, Melbourne: 4.00pm Sunday 24 March
- Palace Chauvel, Sydney: 7.00pm Wednesday 27 March
- Palace Electric, Canberra: 7.00pm Thursday 4 April
- Palace Byron Bay: 7.00pm Friday 5 April
- Palace Brisbane Centro: 4.00pm Sunday 7 April
- Palace Nova Adelaide: 7.00pm Thursday 11 April