Aussie exhibs give ‘Peace’ a chance

SURFERS PARADISE, Queensland — After getting a sneak preview, Australian exhibs believe “The Peacemaker” — the first feature release from DreamWorks — will be a big moneymaker.

The action thriller toplining George Clooney and Nicole Kidman had its first international trade screening at the Australian Movie Convention here Wednesday.

The film, about the U.S. military’s desperate efforts to recover nuclear missiles hijacked from a train in Russia, was shown with a digital soundtrack but with a few key special effects (including a Chernobyl-type explosion) still to be added, according to execs at United Intl. Pictures, which will release the pic in Oz in December. It bows Sept. 26 in the U.S.

Media reps among the 75 exhibs, distribs, producers and other attendees who saw the film at the Pacific Fair multiplex were forbidden from reviewing it in advance of the first U.S. media and trade screenings.

“Fantastic; it will do big business,” from Greater Union programming chief Peter Cody, was a typical verdict. Cody praised the fast-paced thriller as “an incredible debut” by first-time feature director Mimi Leder.

Hoyts Cinemas general manager Paul Johnson praised the acting and said the pic was “put together very well.” Reading Cinemas Robert Ward opined, “It’s very commercial. It will do pretty well.”One distrib who did not want to be identified did not think there was the right chemistry between Clooney as a daredevil colonel and Kidman as a nuclear smuggling expert who is drawn into the fray — but he did not doubt the film’s B.O. appeal.

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