'Finding Dory' leads 2016 box office in Australia

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Day and Date Down Under

The top box-office film for 2016 in Australia was Finding Dory with A$48.5 million, followed by Deadpool at A$43.3 million. The top-grossing Australian film was Hacksaw Ridge with A$8.2 million as of Dec. 29. It is still playing in cinemas. Full-year box office for both Australia and New Zealand is not available until after this issue's deadlines.

More numbers: The latest statistics show 40% of Australian cinema patrons are 14 to 24, 30% are between 25 and 34, 28% between 35 and 49, and 23% are 50 or older.

In 2003, Australian film schoolmates James Wan and Leigh Whannell scraped enough money together to film a scene for a movie. They took that scene on DVD to Los Angeles and got a deal that resulted in the original Saw. After making numerous films in the U.S., the two filmmakers are back in Australia in 2017, each with a new project. Wan will settle into the Gold Coast's Village Roadshow Studios to film Aquaman with Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones), Amber Heard and Patrick Wilson. In this comic-book tale, the hero learns that he is to be the chief honcho of the underwater city of Atlantis and lead his people. Warner Bros. plans an October 2018 release.

Whannell's film Stem will be filmed a bit further south in his hometown of Melbourne. Whannell also wrote the script about a paralyzed tech nerd who attempts to avenge his wife's murder using a high-tech chip called Stem. Logan Marshall-Green from Prometheus has been set for the lead.

Whannell said, "It is not only hugely exciting for me to be making Stem, but to be doing it in Australia makes it extra-special, utilizing the incredibly talented artists we have here to realize the film with me. And to be shooting this science-fiction film on the streets of my beloved hometown of Melbourne is a dream come true for me."

Village Roadshow has teamed up with Mattel Toys to launch the VJunior concept in Village Cinemas Australia. The concept contains digital, physical and interactive zones in the movie theatre. The auditorium is kept lighter than normal so children can both play with the toys and watch the film. This project is targeting children from three to ten and is being launched at one site in Melbourne, with other cinema complexes being considered.

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