‘Indian’ shows strength in Oz

Drama is highest grossing Kiwi pic of all time

SYDNEY — “The World’s Fastest Indian” is no sprinter, but over the long distance the Kiwi-hatched drama is showing considerable stamina Down Under.

The Roger Donaldson-helmed film, based on the true story of a motorbike aficionado determined to set a land speed record in the 1960s, has become the highest-grossing Kiwi pic of all time at home, surpassing “Once Were Warriors.”

In New Zealand it has grossed more than NZ$7 million (US$4.4 million) since being released in October, and sits just outside the all-time top 10 in the country.

With Anthony Hopkins portraying a doddery speed demon, pic has struck a similar nerve across the Tasman Sea in Australia, where it is ranked fifth after six weeks. It has grossed A$5.5 million ($4.2 million).

Last weekend it was still showing on 170 screens and dropped just 12% from the previous frame.

Becker Films co-topper Richard Payten said pic built slowly in both territories where his company released the film.

He said at face value it’s not an easy sell — the title has confused people who think “Indian” refers to either Indian nationals or American Indians, when it is in fact a brand of motorcycle.

“We’ve done an enormous amount of work on word or mouth,” he said.

“Indian,” repped for worldwide sales by the New Zealand Film Commission, is set in Invercargill on the remote southern tip of New Zealand’s south island.

Donaldson was born in Oz but emigrated to New Zealand to avoid being drafted for Vietnam. Barrie Osborn is one of five exec producers.

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