'Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy'.

‘Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy.’ (Photo: Daniel Boud) 

Mark Joffe’s Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Boy was the only new Australian release to connect with mainstream audiences in August and after just one week already ranks as the second highest-grossing local title since Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade opened in June.

The Australian feature films and feature documentaries released this year, including holdovers, have raked in $41.5 million through August 29, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA).

Given the growing buzz surrounding Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black, which opens on September 20 via Sony Pictures, and a raft of other releases there is no doubt the Oz titles will finish the year ahead of 2017’s $49.4 million.

Among the other August releases, Jason Raftopoulos’ West of Sunshine and Alex Barry and Vincent Amouroux’s Living Universe went out on limited screens while Jason Perini’s NRL-themed Chasing Comets opened on 70 screens but failed to score.

West of Sunshine’s producer/distributor, Exile Entertainment’s Alexi Ouzas tells IF the first week take of about $40,000 including festival screenings was in line with his projections.

The drama starring Damian Hill, Tyler Perham, Kat Stewart, Tony Nikolakopoulos and Arthur Angel has just opened at the Pivotonian Cinema in Geelong and the Thornbury Picturehouse and will play at two more SFF travelling festivals as well as the Greek Film Festival in October.

Dark Star Pictures will launch the film in the US in early January and it’s been sold to China and France. “We are predicting overseas revenue to be slightly higher than returns in Australia,” he said. “We will release the film on VOD in Australia in early 2019 and are in the process of selling TV rights.

“Overall, the film so far has achieved every success we could have hoped for: top-tier festival premiere, support from local government agencies, strong critical reviews and audience response, US and international distribution, and we are very confident the film will return a healthy ROI to investors.”

Distributed by Universal Pictures as an alternate content release and produced by CJZ, Mark Joffe’s Jimmy Barnes biopic opened on 221 screens – the widest-ever for an Australian feature documentary – making $501,000.

Will Gluck’s Peter Rabbit is the year’s 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 feature doc with $973,000.

Marion Pilowsky’s The Flip Side and Luke Shanahan’s Rabbit opened on Thursday and Mark Grentell’s The Merger began advance screenings before its September 6 debut.

Transmission Films will launch Jeremy Sims’ Wayne on September 6, Madman unleashes Ben Lawrence’s Ghosthunters on September 20 and Footprint Films will premiere Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga on September 27.

The upcoming slate includes Russell Mulcahy’s In Like Flynn (October 11, Umbrella), Stephen McCallum’s 1% (Icon, October 18), Lliam Worthington’s One Less God (Oct/Nov, Umbrella) and Joel Edgerton’s Boy Erased (November 6, Universal)

If the stars align the 2019 slate will be the most widely appealing and commercial in years. Arguably Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai, Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, Kiah and Tristan Roache-Turner’s Nekrotronic, 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 are all among the most promising titles – if not surefire winners.

View the full chart here.

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