By Simon de Bruyn

Baz Luhrmann’s epic fourth film Australia grossed $6.37 million at the Australian box office over the weekend, starting its own epic trip towards its goal of beating the $57m gross of Titanic.

The film grossed a per screen average of $9,913 on 643 screens from Thursday to Sunday, which pushed its domestic total to $7.78m.

As the last Australian release of 2008, the film is a much lauded boost for the local film industry which has endured a generally dismal year in terms of box office takings. Until now The Black Balloon’s $2.25m take was the highest Australian film gross of the year. Australia beat this figure on its second day in cinemas.

The gross of Australia is being closely monitored for a number of reasons, not only due to the immense $200m budget. Earlier this year, the head of 20th Century Fox in Australia, Marcos Oliveira, was quoted hyping the film’s domestic takings:

"We expect to be the biggest [film] of all time," he said.

In the US, Australia certainly doesn’t look set to get anywhere near Titanic, with an estimated opening weekend gross of $20m according to movie tracking website Box Office Mojo.

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