Sue Milliken and Bruce Beresford (centre) with the cast of ‘Ladies in Black.’

Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black has grossed $11.4 million in seven weeks, encouraging Sony Pictures, which acquired the worldwide rights, to start devising plans to release the comedy-drama in offshore markets.

“The film was always required to establish itself here first before leveraging that success internationally,” Sony Pictures Releasing executive VP Stephen Basil-Jones tells IF.

Produced by Sue Milliken and Allanah Zitserman, the 1959-set film is heading for $13 million here and in New Zealand is about to surpass $NZ1 million, which Basil-Jones rates as a superb result, particularly considering Oz films often struggle when they cross the ditch.

In Los Angeles last week he discussed with his colleagues rolling out the film, which stars Julia Ormond, Angourie Rice, Rachael Taylor, Ryan Corr, Alison McGirr, Noni Hazlehurst and Vincent Perez, in the UK and North America. Also he had positive feedback from Sony reps in Poland and Hungary, markets which relate to the immigration theme.

Publishing rights to the source novel, the late Madeleine St John’s ‘The Women in Black,’ have been snapped up by publishers in France, Italy, Germany, Israel and Holland, which should aid awareness of the film.

The Society of Australian Cinema Pioneers will celebrate its success at its 85th anniversary dinner in Sydney on November 14, attended by Beresford, Milliken, actor Nicholas Hammond, DOP Peter James and costume designer Wendy Cork.

Ladies in Black scored 11 nominations at this year’s AACTA Awards including best film, lead actress (Julia Ormond and Angourie Rice), supporting actress (Noni Hazlehurst), adapted screenplay (Beresford and Milliken), editing (Mark Warner), cinematography (James), original score (Christopher Gordon), costume design (Cork) and hair and makeup (Jen Lamphee, Anna Gray, Beth Halstead).

Basil-Jones says: “The film continues to have a long playing season, up to Christmas and beyond, we hope, and has played so well in the country and regional areas as well as the cities and suburbs.

“Qualitatively it’s done so much more, touching so many people in such a positive way, which augurs well for future Australian films including Storm Boy.”

Sony Pictures is launching Storm Boy, Shawn Seet’s contemporary re-imagining of Henri Safran’s 1976 classic, which stars Geoffrey Rush, Jai Courtney and newcomer Finn Little, on January 17.

Also featured at the Pioneers dinner will be a video clip of an Adelaide Today Tonight story by Paul Makin about the discovery of more than 300 long-lost photos of the cast and crew of the film Bitter Springs.

Directed by Ralph Smart, the Ealing studios production was shot in 1950 in South Australia and starred Chips Rafferty as a bigoted farmer in the early 1900s who clashed with an Aboriginal tribe which depended on water located on the family’s property. The cast included Tommy Trinder, Gordon Jackson, Michael Pate and Bud Tingwell.

The dinner will also pay tribute to esteemed distributor Russell Anderson, the National Cinema Pioneer of the year, who started as an office boy at Greater Union’s Wests theatre in Adelaide in 1965 and retired as 20th Century Fox’s national sales director in 2015.

Founded by November 1933 by 64 distributors and exhibitors, the Society has more than 2,600 members with branches in every state

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