'Boy' becomes New Zealand's highest-grossing movie

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A comedy inspired by writer-director Taika Waititi's Oscar-nominated short Two Cars, One Night and his own childhood in Waihau Bay has just become the highest-grossing New Zealand film of all time. Boy, budgeted at US$4 million, has passed the NZ$7 million taken by Once Were Warriors and the NZ$7.047 million which the Anthony Hopkins film World's Fastest Indian made. In an era where computer-assisted action and 3D glasses are considered the paths to box-office heaven, this wonderfully natural and magical film has captured the attention of Kiwis of all ages.

A coming-of-age comedy set on the rural east coast of New Zealand, Boy tells the tale of 11-year-old Boy, his younger brother Rocky and their inept wannabe gangster father Alamein (played by Waititi).

Boy opened in New Zealand on March 25 and sat in the number-one position for five weeks. It was also the fastest number-one earner of all time, taking just eight weeks to break the record for a New Zealand film. At last count, the film was still sitting at number three in the weekly charts and is set to exceed NZ$8 million.

Director Waititi is currently in New Orleans acting in the big-budget action film Green Lantern.

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As has been reported widely, Village Roadshow has received US$1 billion credit to fund further films, mainly with Warner Bros. Among the films expected to receive funding from the deal are Cats & Dogs 2 3D and Happy Feet 2.

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There has been a lot written in recent times about the preference of many Australian filmmakers for dark and introspective contemporary dramas. In the late 1970s, there was a large passion for genre films of which the most successful was Mad Max, and a number of filmmakers have recently had some success with outback horror and thriller features. Up-and-coming feature director Dean Francis feels it is time for more genre films. "I think people have gotten tired of these inward-looking, self-indulgent micro-dramas,” he opined.

Francis recently completed Road Train, an Australia-set thriller with some resemblance to Steven Spielberg's Duel. "Four naïve, young, promiscuous people in the outback encounter a terrifying beast. It's a supernatural truck that is capable of possessing its drivers and other people." Road Train is playing at film festivals before its release later this year.

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