Peter Jackson is Lord of Boxing Day

Columns

Boxing Day is the busiest day of the year in cinemas in both Australia and New Zealand. It is also the day that distributors choose to release their major releases for the Down Under school holidays. The new Hobbit feature, Frozen and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty all opened along with more adult fare such as Philomena and The Railway Man and more. This Boxing Day, Peter Jackson cemented his place as Lord of the Screens in Australia. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug scored the second-highest Boxing Day opening ever in Australia (A$5.465 million). The highest is last year's The Hobbit with A$5.9 million and positions three to five are held by the three Lord of the Rings films, giving Jackson the top five with a good chance of making it six at the end of the year with The Hobbit: There and Back Again.

A very different film, Dhoom 3, has just broken records for the highest-grossing Hindi release in both Australia and New Zealand.

James Cameron, who owns a farm in New Zealand, will be making the next three Avatar films there. The announcement was made by the director along with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, producer Jon Landau and 20th Century Fox's Paul Hanneman. Recent changes to New Zealand's screen producing incentives mean that the films will qualify for a 25% rebate. As part of the agreement, the majority of the live-action shooting and special effects will be done in New Zealand, at least 90% of the crew will be locals, and New Zealand will host at least one of the premieres.

Hanneman said that films like the Avatar sequels require a significant collaboration between the film industry and government. "New Zealand offers unparalleled support to films of this scale," he attested. Cameron has said that the sequels will concentrate not only on leads Jake and Neytiri, but on their children and the generation after that. Filming is expected to start on the three films in October, with the first being released in December 2016 and the following films a year apart, as is happening with The Hobbit currently. Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver have all signed on to appear, with Stephen Lang also rumored despite his character’s death in the original.
 
Australia has not been sitting back either and has managed to grab a film about the aftermath of a San Andreas Fault earthquake. San Andreas, a 3D action adventure with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a helicopter pilot looking for his daughter after the quake, films early this year at Warner Studios on the Gold Coast for a June 5, 2015 U.S. release. The Roadshow/New Line picture has a budget of around $100 million and will be directed by Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island). The feature was originally set to film in California, but local tax concessions brought the film Down Under.

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