Summer Down Under brings wide variety of movie choices

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Boxing Day is traditionally the biggest-grossing day of the year in Australian and New Zealand cinemas. It falls in the first part of the school holidays which run from mid-December to the end of January (summer Down Under). Because of this, an excess of films are released on Boxing Day, ranging from major blockbusters to art-house releases.

This year, the films included Tower Heist, the two Spielberg films The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse, Happy Feet 2 and We Bought a Zoo. All opened at between 200 and 500 screens in Australia. Debuting on an unusual 100 screens (midway between a wide release and an art-house release) was the Meryl Streep film The Iron Lady from Icon Distribution. Albert Nobbs and The Skin I Live In opened with a normal art-house release of between 20 and 30 screens. Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol opened a week prior to these other films and just managed to hold on to the top spot in Australia in this peak week, followed closely by Tintin. A week later, Tintin easily passed MI. In New Zealand, Tintin was the clear winner, with more than double the take of the second-place film, Mission: Impossible.

In Australia, The Iron Lady had the best screen average and opened in the top ten ahead of films with much higher screen counts. But in New Zealand, Tintin had a higher screen average, though the Margaret Thatcher biopic opened above Happy Feet 2, We Bought a Zoo and Tower Heist.

Iron lady distributor Icon is an American independent production company founded by Australians Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey in 1989. Following the closure of Icon Distribution in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand are now the only territories where Icon operates as a distribution company. Icon also owns the Dendy cinema chain Down Under. Icon will release the Australia-U.K. co-production A Few Best Men directed by Stephan Elliott on Jan. 26, followed by Liam Neeson in The Grey and the Icon Prods. Shakespearean feature Coriolanus, directed by Ralph Fiennes. Their films range from art-house to wide releases and the local company acquires the majority of its product for release here.

If you’re looking for an excuse to come Down Under, August 19-23 are the dates of the 2012 Australian International Movie Convention being held at Jupiters Hotel & Casino, Gold Coast, Queensland. Add the dates to your diary now, so you don't miss out on participating in one of the best events on the Australian/New Zealand film industry calendar.

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