Red Obsession harvests fans in the US

Australian documentary Red Obsession looks set to reap the rewards of a multi-platform release in the US.

The doco narrated by Russell Crowe, co-written and co-directed by David Roach and Warwick Ross, began a staggered cinema roll-out in New York and Miami on September 6 and was released on Video-On-Demand platforms the same day.

Over the weekend Ross, who’s in New York, told Roach that iTunes gave their film a 5 star rating and it shot up from No. 7 to No. 2 on the list of most downloaded docs.

Subsequently distributor FilmBuff told Roach the film ranked at No. 11 on the independent chart and No. 3 on the documentary chart. The film also appears among the top docs on Google Play and is featured in the special releases room on Amazon Instant Video.

Roach hasn’t seen any stats for the buy-rates yet but he told IF the distributor “seems very excited and that's got to be a good thing.”

The film grossed a modest $US5,060 in the first three days at two New York locations but Roach says he’s waiting to see how the film performs in the next few weeks in cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Phoenix, Toronto and Portland. As he notes, the primary purpose of the cinema release is to position the film for VoD and DVD.

The US critics have been as positive as those in Australia; on Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rare 100% approval rating, with 16 affirmative reviews thus far.

“With the fierce purchasing power of its elite class, China has become the biggest importer of wines from the Bordeaux region of France. The tension generated by these new kids on the clubby French wine scene — who were driving up prices and clearing out cellars just a few years ago — is the subject of Warwick Ross and David Roach’s fast-paced, ripped-from-the-headlines documentary Red Obsession,” said the New York Times’ Nicole Hetherington.

"The movie raises legitimate concerns about the cultural and economic implications of status-minded overconsumption."

Village Voice’s Pete Vonder Haar opined, “The doc affords us a look into a world rarely seen by the lumpenproletariat, though we could have done with fewer aerial/time-lapse shots and more history beyond ‘Napoleon III classified the vineyards in 1855, then the Chinese showed up.’”

Slant’s Kenji Fujishima declared, “Red Obsession may not set the world on fire as a piece of doc filmmaking, but its obvious passion for its subject and its informativeness make up for what it lacks in aesthetic daring. The highest compliment one can offer to the film is that it may well inspire one to a higher appreciation of wine while also bringing about a greater awareness of the market forces that turn even the highest art into commodities.”