Launched on Boxing Day, Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner raked in $6.32 million in its first week at Australian cinemas, including previews, ranking as the highest-grossing Oz title of 2014.

In its second weekend the drama starring Crowe as a farmer who goes to Turkey four years after the battle of Gallipoli in search of his sons rang up $2.7 million on 299 screens, occuppying fifth spot behind The Hobbit's final chapter, The Imitation Game, Penguins of Madagascar and Big Hero 6.

That boosts the total to $8.4 million. Co-distributed by Universal and Entertainment One, the film co-starring Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Yilmaz Erdogan, Robert Mammone, Hugo Johnstone-Burt and Cem Yilmaz, looks capable of earning at least $15 million.

By comparison, Mao’s Last Dancer grossed $15.4 million and The Sapphires brought in $14.4 million.

In its first six days Crowe’s directorial debut fetched $5.68 million, surpassing Wolf Creek 2’s $4.7 million and the The Railway Man’s 2014  takings of $5.5 million. In New Zealand The Water Diviner posted NZ$412,276, including sneaks, in its first week.

The 38 Australian features and documentaries released last year, plus around 20 titles that carried over from 2013 or earlier years, generated a total of $27 million, according to IF’s preliminary estimate.

The 7-day frame from Boxing Day to New Year’s Day pulled in $51.3 million, fractionally less than the $51.6 million in the same period in 2013.

The estimated 2014 national B.O. was around $1.072 billion, trailing 2013’s $1.099 billion. That would give Australian films a market share of approximately 2.5%, well short of 2013’s 3.5% and the 10-year average of 3.8%.

Despite the dip in 2014 grosses, Universal Pictures MD Mike Baard hails the result as excellent considering the number of high-profile films that were due to be released last year but were moved to 2015.

“That’s a hugely impressive tally given the unprecedented amount of films moved out of year, “ Baard said. “Just Universal’s Fast and Furious 7 would have probably made up the shortfall of some $28 million, not to mention Fifty Shades of Grey and many more films which were slated to release in 2014.

"So few commentators are picking up on that; movies do have their release dates move every year but I have never seen so many major films lost on the calendar. This was the first year Pixar never had a release as just as another example.

“So the business is pretty healthy, and with such an amazing line-up in 2015, I am very confident we will see double-digit growth.”

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