Australian films BO mid-year scorecard: ‘Top End Wedding’ takes the lead

Wayne Blair and Miranda Tapsell on the set of ‘Top End Wedding’.

Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding has edged past Shawn Seet’s Storm Boy to rank as the highest grossing Australian film this year.

At the half way mark of the year, the Australian films and feature docs released in cinemas, plus holdovers, have racked up a modest $15.6 million, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia.

That’s a long way below the $40 million generated in the same period last year, led by Peter Rabbit’s $26.6 million, Breath’s $4.4 million (finishing with $4.6 million) and Sweet Country’s $2 million.

So can the industry surpass or match the 2018 calendar year total of $57.4 million? That was the third biggest year ever behind 2001’s $63.1 million and the all-time record of 2015’s $88.1 million, the year of Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dressmaker and Oddball.

Exhibitors are optimistic about the outlook for the rest of the year, particularly Rachel Ward’s Palm Beach and Kriv Stenders’ Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan (both open on August 8), Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale (August 29) and Rachel Griffiths’ Ride Like a Girl (September 26).

One would hope at least two or three will gross $5 million or more.

The documentary line-up looks strong with Richard Lowenstein’s Mystify: Michael Hutchence launching on Thursday, Stephen Amis’ Defend, Conserve, Protect on July 25 and Adam Goodes: The Australian Dream on August 22.

Among the titles awaiting release dates are Sophie Hyde’s Animals, Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters, Gregor Jordan’s Dirt Music, Jeremy Sims’ Rams, Tony Tilse’s Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears, Kiah Roache-Turner’s Nekrotronic and Stephen Johnson’s High Ground.

There is plenty of potential too among a raft of other films including John Sheedy’s H is for Happiness, Maziar Lahooti’s Below, Natalie Erika James’ Relic, Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth, JJ Winlove’s June Again and Justin Dix’s Blood Vessel.

Top End Wedding has grossed $5.1 million, surpassing Storm Boy which made just under $5 million. Damon Gameau’s 2040 is the top earning feature doc with $1.07 million and will get more impetus as Madman Entertainment adds 25-plus screens in coming weeks.

View the scorecard here.