The most successful indie pics in Oz this year have been older-skewing European dramas, many of which have performed exponentially better Down Under than they did in their home or other English-language markets. This phenomenon has occurred at the expense of domestic productions, with Richard Roxburgh’s “Romulus, My Father” the only Oz pic to make an impact.
Icon Film Distribution
Topper: Mark Gooder, CEO; Greg Denning, g.m., theatrical
B.O.: $21.4 million
Top pic: “The Queen” ($8.6 million)
In brief: Made its name with cast-driven, quality crossover pics. Shingle has mined British pics that play to mature female auds. This year, Chris Noonan’s “Miss Potter” outperformed similar territories with a $6.5 million haul. Next year, shingle is banking on more Renee Zellweger magic with “Chilled in Miami,” among other pics.
Toppers: Troy Lum, m.d.; Frank Cox, prexy; Sandie Don, g.m.
B.O.: $9.5 million
Top pic: “The Lives of Others” ($2.4 million)
In brief: One of Oz’s most profitable distribs, Hopscotch is branching into production, buying pricey films and embracing direct-to-consumer Web distribution. Shingle, founded in 2002, made its name with generally low-cost but high-maintenance niche fare such as “What the Bleep Do We Know!?,” “Spellbound” and “Winged Migration.” It also stepped up for a few bigger titles, such as “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which grossed $8 million in 2004. Company’s 2007 slate features riskier releases requiring considerable p&a, among them local pickup of Jane Campion’s “Bright Star” and Diane English’s “The Women.”
Toppers: Richard Payten, Andrew Mackie, joint general managers
B.O.: $8.5 million
Top pic: “Becoming Jane” ($3.1 million)
In brief: It’s business as usual at Dendy Films despite a corporate upheaval at parent company Becker Group. Founders the Becker family ended up selling their stake in the company to the other major shareholder, regional TV operator Prime. Becker now releases all film titles under the Dendy arthouse brand. “Volver” and “Romulus, My Father” have performed well, and expectations are high for “Control” and “Death Defying Acts.”
Toppers: Kelly Rogers, CEO; Mike Vile, g.m.
B.O.: $8.4 million
Top pic: “Amazing Grace” ($3.8 million)
In brief: This Kiwi-hatched niche distrib’s entry into the Oz market has been low-key and glacial, somewhat like the trajectory of its most notorious success, Swedish choir drama “As It Is in Heaven.” Eighteen months after the pic first opened in South Australia, it has taken $2.5 million and still regularly makes the box office top 20. Rialto doesn’t shy from risky fare among quality English arthouse and American indie films. On the slate: “Charlie Bartlett,” “Lars and the Real Girl” and “Married Life.”
Topper: Robert Slaviero, CEO
B.O.: $6.3 million
Top pic: “Georgia Rule” ($2.8 million)
In brief: Hoyts Distribution, an offshoot of one of Australia’s three dominant cinema chains, is built upon broad releases, especially the “Saw” franchise. Pacific Equity Partners’ recent acquisition of the Hoyts Group from co-owners Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. and West Australian Newspapers ends a spell of corporate uncertainty, while a new three-year distribution deal with Lionsgate should see Hoyts build a bigger market share.
Note: 2007 B.O. through Sept. 30