BO Report: ‘The Australian Dream’ resonates in upscale locations, less so elsewhere

‘The Australian Dream.’

The racist slurs which ended the football career of Sydney Swans star Adam Goodes dominated the national conversation for weeks in the lead-up to the premieres of Ian Darling’s The Final Quarter and Daniel Gordon’s The Australian Dream.

So how to explain the fact that Gordon’s acclaimed film ranked at No. 12 in Australian cinemas last weekend after winning the MIFF Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature and earning a nomination for an AACTA Award?

Some 640,000 people watched The Final Quarter on Network 10 after its Sydney Film Festival premiere in June. That plus the copious publicity for both docs and the issues of race, identity and belonging may well have prompted some people to think: “I know the story, so I don’t need to see The Australian Dream.”

To be fair, the film written by Stan Grant and produced by Good Thing Productions’ Nick Batzias, Virginia Whitwell and Sarah Thomson and Passion Pictures’ John Battsek had already made a tidy sum from festivals and advance screenings.

The Madman release grossed $165,000 on 101 screens, which brings the total to $426,000. While Madman MD Paul Wiegard was disappointed with the opening weekend figure he tells IF: “The film has all the ingredients for a long term future with an overwhelmingly positive critical response, major international film festivals [including Toronto] to come, education sector engagement, corporate bookings, and the ABC broadcast in 2020.

“Our assessment of the public response to date is the word of mouth has been exceptional, consistent responses declaring the film ‘poignant, powerful and must-see film,’ so we remain hopeful we can maintain enough screens for ongoing box office.”

Cinema Nova was the top location for Gordon’s film, which resonated best in upscale, urban locations around the country. “That indicates that progressive audiences are receptive to the film and its message of the racial prejudice shown towards Adam Goodes,” says Cinema Nova GM Kristian Connelly.

“I feel it is only appropriate to consider that the lack of enthusiasm shown the film in some markets is very likely to be due to a resistance to engage with a message that will be, for many, uncomfortable viewing.”

Despite the launches of Angel Has Fallen, Chinese animated fantasy/thriller Ne Zha, Japanese animated romantic fantasy drama Weathering for You and US faith-based drama Overcomer, it wasn’t a great weekend as the top 20 titles harvested nearly $12 million, down 18 per cent on the previous frame, according to Numero.

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood again dominated the market, bagging $3.7 million in its second weekend despite falling by 44 per cent. The Sony release starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie has rustled up $12.4 million and will outgun Django Unchained, which finished with $16 million, and Inglorious Basterds’ $13.8 million.

The 1969-set drama/thriller has collected $123.2 million after five weekends in the US and $239.8 million worldwide.

Roadshow’s Angel Has Fallen, the third edition of the franchise which stars Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman and Jada Pinkett Smith, drummed up $1.8 million, a respectable start in view of the $21.2 million US debut, although it trails London Has Fallen’s $2.16 million opening in 2016.

Disney’s The Lion King ascended to $60.3 million after banking $1.4 million in its sixth stanza. The Jon Favreau-directed musical fantasy adventure now ranks as the ninth biggest blockbuster of all time globally with $1.5 billion and will soon surpass Furious 7’s $1.516 billion and The Avengers’ $1.519 billion.

Universal’s Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw scored $942,000 in its fourth, climbing to $16.8 million. The action thriller starring Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham has clocked $589 million worldwide, propelled by China’s $102 million, an all-time record debut in August in that market.

Released by CMC, director/co-writer Yu Yang’s Ne Zha, the tale of a boy with the power to destroy the world who must choose between good and evil in order to break the shackles of fate, conjured up $648,000 on just 27 screens.

Madman’s Weathering for You, the Makoto Shinkai-directed tale of a high school freshman who runs away from his remote island home and ends up in rainy Tokyo, where he meets a girl who is magically able to stop the rain and clear the sky, drew $530,000 on 133 screens.

After a lousy first weekend Universal’s A Dog’s Journey, the sequel to the 2017 hit A Dog’s Purpose , fetched $446,000, hoisting its total to $1.2 million.

Rachel Ward’s Palm Beach pocketed $443,000 in its third weekend, down 34 per cent, generating a decent $3.3 million thus far for Universal.

Kriv Stenders’ Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan captured $298,000 in the same time frame, also easing by 34 per cent, making $2.1 million for Transmission Films.

Distributed by Crossroads, the Kendrick brothers’ Overcomer, which follows a high school basketball coach whose principal asks him to coach the cross-country running team, for whom the sole volunteer is a diminutive African-American girl who suffers from asthma, nabbed $223,000 on 77 screens including previews.