‘Storm Boy’ launches in the US as ‘Hotel Mumbai’ motors along

‘Storm Boy’

US critics lauded Shawn Seet’s Storm Boy as a beautiful and contemporary retelling of Colin Thiele’s classic tale but the drama faced stiff competition in the specialty market last weekend.

Meanwhile Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai climbed to $US6.4 million after ringing up $1.8 million on 940 screens in its second weekend wide in the US.

The Bleecker Street/ShivHans Pictures release produced by Basil Iwanyk, Gary Hamilton, Mike Gabrawy, Julie Ryan, Andrew Ogilvie and Jomon Thomas had a decent per-screen average of $1,914, despite falling by 44 per cent.

The thriller starring Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi, Anupam Kher, Jason Isaacs and Tilda Cobham-Hervey collected $151,000 in its fourth weekend in Oz, to reach $2.9 million.

The US distributor Good Deed Entertainment launched Storm Boy on 56 screens, grossing $46,676 for an average of $834.

The international sales agent Kathy Morgan told IF last week the distributor had booked the film at premium locations including the Empire in New York and City Walk in Los Angeles and Jai Courtney and Finn Little had worked hard to drum up publicity.

Typifying the positive reviews, the Los Angeles Times’ Michael Rechtshaffen praised the performances by Geoffrey Rush and Little, declaring: “At once uplifting and melancholic, it’s the right Storm Boy for our turbulent times. Director Seet’s gorgeously filmed production proves to resonate as much today as it did 40-plus years ago.”

The Hollywood Reporter’s Frank Scheck lauded a “sweet, moving tale, leavened with enough grittiness in terms of characters and situations to ameliorate any cloying aspects.”

Scheck added: “While the framing device in Justin Monjo’s screenplay isn’t necessary, it does provide the opportunity for Rush to deliver one of his more subtle, effective performances in recent years. It also lends an environmental protection theme that provides both contemporary relevance and a crowd-pleasing happy ending.”

Produced by Ambience Entertainment’s Matthew Street and Michael Boughen, Storm Boy ended up making $4.94 million in Australia. The family drama is enjoying a strong run in Poland, selling more than 232,000 tickets, beating distributor Monolith’s target of 175,000.

“That supports our belief that audience word of mouth is strong,” says Morgan, who has sold the film to multiple territories including France, Eastern Europe and South-East Asia and is in final negotiations with several major markets. There was a hold-back on releases in other territories until after the US.

In a crowded weekend for specialty releases in the US, Claire Denis’ first Engliish language film High Life, a sci-fi mystery drama starring Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche, bagged a superb $100,000 at just four cinemas.

Sydney Pollack’s 1972 Aretha Franklin concert doc Amazing Grace, which features the Queen of Soul in a Watts church in her late 20s, whistled up $57,353 at three cinemas for a $19,118 average, the weekend’s second-highest.

Mike Leigh’s historical drama Peterloo, which Transmission Films will launch on May 16, generated $30,426 at three locations.