After a lengthy delay following Disney’s sale of Miramax, Melbourne-shot horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark has finally opened on Australian shores.

Originally scheduled to be released early this year and then again in August, the US flick – produced by Guillermo del Toro and starring Guy Pearce and Katie Holmes – grossed $125,222 across 48 screens in its opening weekend, giving it a screen average of $2609. It’s seen to be an okay result, since horror movies don’t traditionally do well theatrically in Australia. In the US, the film grossed almost $US24 million, according to Box Office Mojo.

Distributed locally by Hopscotch/eOne, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is a remake of a 1970s TV horror film. It follows Sally Hurst (Bailee Madison), a lonely, withdrawn child who moves in with her father Alex (Guy Pearce) and his new girlfriend (Katie Holmes) in a 19th century mansion. Sally discovers a hidden basement and unwittingly lets loose a race of ancient, dark-dwelling creatures who conspire to drag her down in the mysterious house’s bottomless depths.

Meanwhile, Aussie feature The Cup, based on the events leading up to the 2002 Melbourne Cup, took in $132,835 across 161 screens on the weekend, acquiring a low screen average of just $825 since opening in mid-October.

The biggest Australian film of the year, Red Dog, made a further $96,349 (104 screens) and has now almost made $21 million since opening in early-August.

Fred Schepisi’s The Eye of the Storm, which had recent success at the Rome International Film Festival, took in $43,648 from 38 screens, while Umbrella’s films: Autoluminescent and Caught Inside, grossed $11,136 (6 screens) and $2629 (5 screens) respectively.

Autoluminescent, a doco on influential Melbourne guitarist Rowland S. Howard, has now grossed $37,853 after two weeks, while Caught Inside, directed by Adam Blaiklock, has made $34,731. The Hunter, starring Willem Dafoe, is still screening and has now made $951,301 since opening in early-October.

In big mainstream releases, sci-fi thriller In Time continued its strong run at the Aussie box office, raking in a further $1.5 million for Fox, while I Don’t Know How She Does It grossed $919,070 in its opening weekend for Roadshow.

Paranormal Activity 3 ($827,318; 195 screens), Midnight In Paris ($780,578; 142 screens) and Contagion ($576,839; 236 screens) rounded off the top five for the weekend.

Note: Australian-Chinese co-production 33 Postcards also opened on the weekend but figures aren’t yet available. Check back for updates.

For a feature on the effects in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, see the August-September issue of IF Magazine.

Australian films at the box office 2011

Source: IF Magazine, MPDAA

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