Local films are scoring big in Australia

Day and Date Down Under

Summer has come early to Australia, with temperatures passing 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) in most capital cities early in October. Summer has come to local films at the box office as well: Boosted by the strong box office of three family films (Paper Planes, Oddball and Blinky Bill: The Movie), plus some of the year's earlier films such as Mad Max: Fury Road, The Water Diviner and the more recent Last Cab to Darwin, this year already has the highest box-office figure ever for local films, with a total expected to exceed A$70 million.

The success of the family films has prompted Screen Australia to encourage more producers into this sector of the industry. The agency is calling for one-page submissions for live-action family films that can be made for under A$7 million. Ten of the submissions will be selected for a two-day workshop in Sydney in March next year. Up to three of those ten will receive government funding to develop a first draft. Although three family films have done well this year, there are few in the pipeline, with the majority of upcoming films filling a darker niche. 


Kelly Rogers and David Ross were co-founders of the Rialto chain of cinemas in New Zealand before selling it to Reading. In recent years they have been establishing Monterey Cinemas, a new boutique chain with a more mainstream target audience than the original Rialto art-house circuit. Their first new cinema in Howick, Auckland, the Monterey, takes the name of a previous, now-closed cinema in the suburb. Their latest cinema is the Monterey Upper Hutt (near Wellington), reopening and updating a theatre that closed in 2012. The cinema is getting a new foyer as well as an upgrade into the digital era. "It's going to appeal to families and children and practically everyone,” says Rogers, adding, "We'll be providing expanded food and beverage offerings with food and drink you will be able to take to your seat.” Rogers and Ross also co-own the Bridgeway Cinemas in Auckland and an upscale cinema in Tauranga.


Do we really want Smell-o-vision resuscitated? Scent of Mystery, starring Denholm Elliott and directed by Jack Cardiff, opened in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles in January 1960 in cinemas especially fitted out for the experience. The movie was not a success, mainly due to very poor reviews. The film was re-released with a new title, Holiday In Spain, by Cinerama without the scents, but it fared little better. Last year, Cinerama specialists David Strohmaier and Paul Sittig completed a restoration for its Blu-ray release under the Holiday In Spain title without the smelly gimmick. Australian writer-producer Tammy Burstock is part of a team that was involved in the restoration of the movie, and a premiere cinema screening of the restored film with fabulous "Smell-o-vision" scents was due to happen in Bradford, England in late October, to be followed by Denmark, with hopes for new screenings around the world. Burnstock recently stated, "The film is not a wonderful piece of cinema, I have to admit. However, it is an amazing piece of history for both scent and Cinerama reasons."

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