It’s been a strong start to the year for Australian cinema with Robert Connolly’s Paper Planes soaring even higher than some pundits predicted last weekend and The Water Diviner continuing to earn tidy sums.
The children’s film released by Roadshow, starring Sam Worthington, Ed Oxenbould and David Wenham, raked in $1.73 million in its first four days and nearly $1.9 million with previews, the No. 1 title in most locations on Thursday and at many cinemas over the weekend.
That figure is even more meritorious considering the tale of an Australian boy’s passion for flight had very few evening sessions.
“Ï didn’t know what to expect because of the performance of Australian films in 2014,” Wallis Cinemas program manager Bob Parr tells IF. “Consequently I am delighted with the result.
“The date was perfect because it was trailered on all the big family films in December / January. Our programming staff who have young kids noted that they were very aware of the film and it was a ‘want to see’. We were able to give it evening sessions in a couple of sites and it did well.”
Inspired by true events, the screenplay is by Connolly and author Steve Worland. The plot follows 11-year old Dylan (Oxenbould), who is brought up by his father (Worthington) in a remote town in country Australia.
Dylan’s life changes when he wins a place in the regional Paper Plane Championships in Sydney. Battling nerves and his nemesis, private schoolboy Jason (Nicholas Bakopoulos), for a spot at the World Championships in Japan, his greatest challenge seems himself. Wisdom arrives from the most unlikely source when he meets Kimi (Ena Imai), the junior Japanese champion. Wenham has the comedic role of Jason’s father, a former pro golfer.
Connolly tells IF, “I’m incredibly grateful to all the families that raced out to see the film in its opening weekend, and excited to already see huge bookings for the weeks ahead. I’d also like to thank the exhibitors who have really got behind this film, together with Roadshow who have championed an Australian film amongst the summer blockbusters.”
Produced by Connolly, Maggie Miles and Liz Kearney, Paper Planes has been selected to screen at the Berlin International Film Festival next month in the Generation Kplus program. Arclight Films is handling international sales.
Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner brought in $880,000 in its fourth weekend, down 48%, taking its total to nearly $13.1 million, heading for $15 million.