Village Roadshow is Oz B.O. champ

Distributor triumphs with seven blockbusters

GOLD COAST, Australia — Roadshow Films triumphed at the Box Office Awards on the final day of the Australian Intl. Movie Convention at the Royal Pines Resort here Thursday.

The Australian and New Zealand theatrical releasing division of Village Roadshow, which also distributes Warner Bros. movies Down Under, led with seven blockbusters in the past 12 months, including top-grossing film of the year-to-date, “The Dark Knight,” with A$42 million ($37 million).

Village Roadshow’s other hits were “Hairspray,” “I Am Legend,” “Get Smart,” “Rush Hour 3,” “The Golden Compass” and “Sex and the City.”

Some 28 films took in more than A$10 million ($8.15 million), the definition of a blockbuster in Oz.

Fox was the second most successful studio with six blockbusters: “Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “What Happens in Vegas,” “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!” “Juno,” “27 Dresses” and “Die Hard 4.0.”

Paramount had “Bee Movie,” “Iron Man,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” the second-highest grossing film with $26 million gross.

Universal Studios notched up “American Gangster,” “Atonement,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and the year’s third-highest-grossing movie “Mamma Mia!” with $24 million.

Disney blockbusters were “Ratatouille,” “Enchanted,” “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” and “The Chronicles of Narnia; Prince Caspian.”

Sony managing director Stephen Basil-Jones this week admitted the studio was having a tough year, it had just two blockbusters, “Hancock” and “Don’t Mess With the Zohan.”

In a ceremony hosted by multihyphenate Rhys Muldoon, model-turned-actress Gemma Ward was crowned Australian Star of the Year for her turn in “The Black Balloon.”

Although it was the highest-grossing local film of the year, it made just $1.8 million for Icon Distribution — a low point for the Australian industry in an otherwise strong year for cinema business.

Icon, which acquired Dendy Films this year, was the only independent distributor with a blockbuster, its breakout comedy “Death at a Funeral” took $11.4 million.