×

Oz fests boost pic interest

Attendance up at Brisbane, Melbourne

SYDNEY — The much-discussed erosion of cinema audiences has not been in evidence Down Under the past few weeks, with Australia’s two leading film festivals, Brisbane and Melbourne, registering increased traffic.

Meanwhile, the well-attended Australian Intl. Movie Convention, Oz’s version of ShoWest, was a hub of optimistic exhibs and distributors eyeballing such pics as “A Good Year” and “BoyTown” plus a sneak midnight screening of “Borat.”

The Melbourne event unspooled 400 films over 19 days before shuttering Aug. 13 with the Oz preem of Paul Goldman’s “Suburban Mayhem.”

Director James Hewison’s sixth and final fest earned A$1.25 million ($1 million), up 5%, after opening July 26 with Murali K. Thalluri’s teen suicide drama “2:37.” Pic has come in for some criticism since the 22-year-old helmer said it was a true story based on a friend, but refused to identify the person. Pic opened through Roadshow to limp B.O. last weekend.

Audience poll voted Jason Reitman’s “Thank You for Smoking” the most popular feature, while Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” took doc kudos.

Despite Melbourne’s highest ticket sales ever, the rising cost of mounting the festival puts it in a tight break-even financial situation and has spurred discussions with the Victoria state government to improve its longer-term financial sustainability. Government funding comprises 6.5% of the fest’s operating budget.

The Brisbane fest, which saw 20% growth in ticket sales, opened Aug. 2 with the Oz preem of Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and shuttered Aug. 13 with Ken Loach’s “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.”

Jack Thompson enjoyed the spotlight after receiving the lifetime achievement Chauvel Award, while the Netpac Award for the promotion of Asian cinema went to Kim Dae-seung’s “Blood Rain.”

Among Oz fests, Brisbane has a rep for presenting the best annual showcase of Asian cinema.

Byambasuren Davaa’s “The Cave of the Yellow Dog” collected Fipresci kudos and was voted second-fave by the audience poll.

Kiwi comedy “No. 2” took top aud kudos and Toni Collette thriller “Like Minds” was third.

William McInnes was voted Australian star of the year by delegates at the Australian Movie Convention’s Australia on Show event Aug. 14, while the Box Office Achievement Award for the highest-grossing film went to “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” with $27 million.

Backpacker thriller “Wolf Creek” was Oz B.O. achiever of the year for Roadshow, which made $4.6 million despite an adults-only rating. Sony’s Hong Kong martial arts film “Kung Fu Hustle” was most successful foreign-language release with earnings of $1 million.

During the event, BVI topper Alan Finney presented popular distrib/exhib Natalie Miller with Lifetime Achievement kudos.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Doc Edge 2019 Forum

    New Zealand’s Doc Edge Festival To Shift Online

    Doc Edge, New Zealand’s annual factual film festival, will this year become an online-only event. Instead of cancelling due to the disruptions to production and travel caused by the coronavirus outbreak, the festival will move all screenings and events into the virtual space. The virtual festival is scheduled to run between May 28 and June [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Health Plan Cuts Premiums by 50% Due to Coronavirus Crisis

    The SAG-AFTRA Health Plan has cut 50% from the cost of premiums for the second quarter in response to the coronavirus crisis. SAG-AFTRA members were notified of the reduction on Wednesday via a message from SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris and national executive director David White. They said the cuts would cover participants who had been [...]

  • Dolly Parton at the Grand Ole

    Film News Roundup: Dolly Parton Donates $1 Million for Research on Coronavirus Cure

    In today’s film news roundup, Dolly Parton makes a donation for coronavirus cure, Howie Mandel and Ashlee Simpson join the voice cast of “Pierre The Pigeon-Hawk” and American Documentary launches an artists emergency fund. RESEARCH DONATION Dolly Parton has donated $1 million to Nashville’s Vanderbilt Hospital to help aid research to find a cure for [...]

  • Amy Adams Jennifer Garner

    Jennifer Garner, Amy Adams on 'Save With Stories,' Helping Children During Coronavirus Quarantine

    Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams are opening their contact lists for their new endeavor to help children during the coronavirus pandemic. Not long after the U.S. came to a screeching halt because of COVID-19, the two superstars launched “SaveWithStories,” an Instagram account that features celebrities and other notable figures reading children’s books. The line-up already [...]

  • Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet in

    Did 'Little Women' Leave Modern Water Bottles in the Background of a Scene?

    Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” appears to have left behind a couple of little mistakes – namely a black Hydro Flask and a Poland Spring water bottle. Self-proclaimed “Little Women” superfan Madelyn Rancourt, who claims to have seen the movie seven times in theaters, exposed the flaw to the internet via TikTok on March 26. @madelynrancourt [...]

  • Coronavirus Covid-19 Placeholder

    Movie Theater Owners Create $1.25 Million Fund for Employees in California, Nevada

    The National Association of Theatre Owners of California/Nevada has established a $1.25 million relief fund to assist employees of member theaters who have been laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “As we all know, our industry is dependent on our employees for survival, and we want to do what we can to assist them during [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content