Australia, New Zealand book seniors at ‘Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’

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Day and Date Down Under

The release of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in both Australia and New Zealand illustrates some differences between the distribution and exhibition strategies in the release of such a film in the U.S. and Down Under. In the U.S., the film opened at number three behind Chappie and Focus. Both of those films were on more screens, but Marigold had a higher screen average, indicating that it could possibly have taken a great deal more had it been on additional screens. In both Australia and New Zealand, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel had the largest number of screens for a new release film and opened at number one, ahead of both Chappie and Focus, and stayed at the top for three weeks. This seems to indicate that both distributors and cinemas Down Under are very aware of the strength of the senior ticket-buying sector, a sector that is expected to grow as the percentage of seniors in the population increases in coming years. The film was still in the top 20 box-office chart in its ninth week, with a total gross approaching A$16 million. At the screening I attended, the ages ranged from about eight to 80, with 70% female and a large number of women in their 40s.

Following on from the success and media coverage of 50 Shades of Grey plus the upcoming sequels, it is perhaps not surprising that Australia-born composer and pianist Percy Grainger is the subject of a new film. The "sex-crazed" composer was born in Australia, but went to Europe in his teens and then to England before settling in America. He often toured back in Australia and set up his own museum in Melbourne. The museum included many of his compositions, concert programs and recordings, as well as a box that was not to be opened until his death. This box contained a collection of 50 whips and other paraphernalia relating to his S&M inclinations. These whips are on display in the museum, situated at a university in Melbourne, but the curators are more keen to focus on his musical life. A film, Passion, was released in 1999 with Richard Roxburgh as Percy and Barbara Hershey as his domineering mother, Rose. Screen Australia has provided initial funding for a new film, Blue Rose, on his early life. Ben Lewin and Wayne Fimeri are writing the script for Lewin to direct. The drama will show an elderly Percy reflecting on his youth and an early Swedish lover, while at the same time being bound to his fragile mother.

The first three months’ box office in Australia for 2015 is up 11% over the same period in 2014, which augurs well for the year-end results. Australian films are also doing well. Local films had taken A$22 million by the end of April. This compares to A$26 million for the whole of 2014. With Mad Max: Fury Road about to be released, the total for local films is sure to well exceed last year’s total. Even before its release, there is talk Down Under of a new Mad Max sequel to follow Fury Road.

The 2015 Australia International Movie Convention will run Oct. 11-15 at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast, just across from the famous beach. A supplementary symposium takes place on Oct. 16. For more details and to book, visit www.movieconvention.com.au.

Send your Australia/New Zealand news to David Pearce at insidemovies@hotmail.com.