‘Ladies in Black.’

No Australian film has broken through with mainstream cinema audiences since Simon Baker’s Breath launched in May. Even so, the upcoming line-up looks sufficiently appealing to ensure this year will surpass the 2017 calendar year total of $49.4 million.

The Australian titles released this year including holdovers have grossed $40.6 million, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA). That’s a modest advance on the $37.6 million collected at the end of May.

June and July were quiet months, led by Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade which made $679,000, and Clayton Jacobson’s Brother’s Nest with $304,000. There were small contributions from Luke Sparke’s Occupation and from event screenings of Chris Sun’s Boar and Axel Grigor’s Jill Bilcock: Dancing the Invisible.

Mairi Cameron’s The Second had a two week run before its Stan premiere and Noel Cleary, Sergio Delfino and Alexs Stadermann’s Maya the Bee: Honey Games played on limited sessions as an alternate content release.

Will Gluck’s Peter Rabbit is the stand-out with $26.7 million followed by Breath ($4.6 million) and Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country ($2 million). Paul Damian Williams’ Gurrumul is the top-grossing feature doc with $960,000.

Enthusiastic responses to the initial screenings of Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black, which Sony is launching on September 20, suggest the 1959-set comedy/drama starring Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice and Rachael Taylor could well be a sizable hit.

The release slate includes Jason Raftopoulos’ West of Sunshine (Exile Entertainment, August 23), Mark Grentell’s The Merger (Umbrella Entertainment, August 29), Marion Pilowsky’s The Flip Side (Fox, August 30), Russell Mulcahy’s In Like Flynn (October 11, Umbrella), Stephen McCallum’s 1% (Icon, October 11) and Lliam Worthington’s One Less God (Oct/Nov, Umbrella).

Mark Joffe’s feature doc Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy will have a limited release via Universal on August 23, Transmission Films will launch Jeremy Sims’ Wayne on September 6 and Footprint Films will premiere Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga on September 27..

Release dates are yet to be set for Mirrah Foulkes’ Judy and Punch, Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters, Ben Hackworth’s Celeste, Grant Sputore’s I Am Mother and Partho Sen-Gupta’s Slam.

The Toronto and Venice Film Festivals should serve as valuable launching pads respectively for Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai (which is due to open in January via Icon, pending confirmation of the US distributor and release date) and Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale (Transmission, date TBC).

The 2019 slate is shaping as perhaps the most commercial in years with those two titles plus Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner’s Nekromancer, Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding, Rachel Ward’s Palm Beach, Kriv Stenders’ Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, Shawn Seet’s Storm Boy, Rachel Griffiths’ Ride Like a Girl and Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang.

View the scorecard here.

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