Christmas releases break records in Australasia

Columns

Cinemas around Australasia rejoiced over the Christmas period. Event Cinemas (Greater Union) had their best single day ever on Boxing Day. In addition, The Hobbit celebrated the best Boxing Day opening of all time and Les Misérables had the best opening day ever for a musical (also on Boxing Day).

The Hobbit’s A$5.9 million opening day was the third best of all time behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (A$7.09 million) and The Avengers (A$6 million). Although more than half of Australian screens are capable of showing The Hobbit in high frame rate, only around 5% are playing the higher-resolution version.

The New Zealand production Shopping was selected for the Sundance Film Festival, a rare event for Kiwi film. Shopping is the debut feature for the writing and directing team of Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland. The duo have previously had success internationally with their shorts The Six Dollar Fifty Man and Run. Shopping focuses on a 16-year-old boy in a small New Zealand town in 198 whose family are veteran shoplifters and thieves. Will he follow in their shoes or make his own way?

Production has started on The Turning, a drama set in a small Western Australian coastal town. The film is based on a number of short stories by Tim Winton, all set in the same location. Seventeen directors will each film one of the connected stories, which focus on relationships within the community. Stars include Hugo Weaving, Rose Byrne, Miranda Otto, Cate Blanchett and Mia Wasikowski.

Filming has been completed on the sequel Return to Nim's Island featuring Bindi Irwin, Matthew Lillard and John Waters. Another sequel just completed is Mad Max: Fury Road, which at times had difficult filming conditions in Namibia.

Screen Australia, the major government funding organization for Australian film and television production, has completely spent its A$42 million drama budget halfway through the financial year. New applications will have to apply by late April for funding announcements in June.

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