Oscars help ticket sales Down Under

SYDNEY — Aussies translated the Oscar wins for “No Country for Old Men” into a box office boost.

Pic’s weekend take was up 90% to A$260,000 ($241,165) compared with the previous weekend, while the week’s take was up 54% to $330,210.

Pic, distribbed by Par in Oz, has earned $4.9 million after 10 weeks and is on track to gross $6 million, a good result for the territory. But every dollar has been hard won when it compared with, say, Fox’s breezy laffer “27 Dresses,” which effortlessly grossed $13.9 million in two months with no Oscar hoopla.

Par Oz veep Mike Selwyn said cinemas hedged that “No Country” would win and backed the result with more cinemas and more sessions while the studio stumped up for an ad campaign.

“This year has probably been as marginal as the Oscar films have ever been,” Selwyn observed.

TV auds fell by less than 10% to 930,000 viewers for the Nine Network’s delayed telecast, but there hasn’t been any hand-wringing about Oscar in Oz.

Show ranked 14th for the night and was beaten in its time period by offerings on commercial rivals Seven and Ten, although lower numbers for “Desperate Housewives” indicate Oscar probably stole some of its aud at 8.30 p.m.

Total B.O. biz is up on last year by 4%, but last week’s $9.5 million total gross was the lowest of the year, a reflection of the preponderance of second-rate fare ahead of the Easter surge.

Distribs of Australian films are taking advantage of the lack of competition to release three titles.

“The Black Balloon” with Toni Collette and Luke Ford, about a family strained by their autistic son, opened on Thursday. That will be followed on March 13 by Harry Houdini biopic “Death Defying Acts” with Catherine Zeta-Jones. Schoolgirl drama “Hey, Hey, Its Esther Blueburger” rolls out in time for the school holidays March 20, one of 10 Easter releases that includes “Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!,” “Drillbit Taylor” and “Be Kind Rewind.”

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