Australia, New Zealand are gaga for ABBA


ABBA has always been very popular in Australia. Two very successful tribute groups, “Bjorn Again” and “ABBAlanche,” were created in Australia and have had been successful in taking their acts global. It is, therefore, no surprise that Mamma Mia! has been one of the year’s biggest successes Down Under. It has amassed more than A$31 million, the equivalent of a US$310 million hit in America. In New Zealand and some Pacific Islands, it did even better—it is the year’s top-grossing film to date.

Following on from Mamma Mia!, local exhibitors are eagerly looking forward to summer and the six-week December-January school holiday season, with High School Musical 3, Quantum of Solace and Australia among the most anticipated releases. There were some red faces at Fox after an error was found on the local posters for Australia. The posters were pulped and reprinted after it was discovered that the southern island state of Tasmania had been left off the map of the continent. Baz Luhrmann’s film is the focus of the next Tourism Australia campaign. The director has filmed a series of commercials highlighting many locations used in the film.

The Sydney IMAX theatre recently celebrated its 12th birthday with the Australian premiere screening of a restored version of the first IMAX film, Tiger Child, directed by Roman Kroiter. Tiger Child first screened as part of the Expo in Osaka in 1970. This IMAX cinema claims to have the largest screen in the world, and the reason behind this is quite interesting. The planners, naturally, wanted to seat the largest number of patrons possible. After designing the optimum seating plan, they discovered that they would have to install a larger-than-normal IMAX screen. Screen size was limited by the strength of the bulb in the projector, so this IMAX cinema uses a bulb that was originally designed by the U.S. Army to light up nighttime combat areas.

Four New Zealand cinemas have recently joined the ever-growing number of Australasian cinemas showing Bollywood films Down Under. SkyCity Cinemas tested a few films, and being pleased with the results, have now decided to show them on a regular basis at three Auckland cinemas and one in Hamilton. They have especially high expectations for the upcoming Christmas with Chajni.

E-mail your Australia/New Zealand news items to David Pearce at insidemovies at hotmail dot com.