Oz looking to local hits

'Kokoda' popular with Aussie auds

SYDNEY — With the boffo launch of “Kokoda” on 94 screens, Aussie pics look to be back in vogue with local auds.

Alister Grierson’s directorial debut, about soldiers fighting the Japanese in New Guinea during WWII, has grossed A$1.6 million ($1.2 million) in 11 days.

Released by Palace ahead of the April 25 ANZAC war memorial holiday, pic tallied 760,000 admissions in week one, and actually gained 10% in its second weekend.

The $3 million movie is the first Aussie release of 2006 and the first of seven homegrown titles Palace will unspool this year.

Pic traveled from script to screen in less than a year, with investors, distribs and government film agency the Film Finance Corp. sold on the concept and the cachet of startup GFN Prods., founded by ex-FFC chairman Geoff Levy and former chief exec Catriona Hughes.

Levy, topper of investment bank Investec, used his connections to fast-track finance.

Grierson and producer Leesa Kahn are both recent grads of the Australian Film Television & Radio School.

A $750,000 campaign incorporating cross-promotion with News newspapers and extensive news and current affairs exposure aided the pic’s success.

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