Thursday 4 December 2008

Australia the movie disappoints at US box office

AAP reports that Australia has opened poorly in North American cinemas, possibly torpedoing the Oscar chances of director Baz Luhrmann and stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman .

Australia opened in 2,600 theatres across the US and Canada on Wednesday for the lucrative Thanksgiving long weekend, but audiences have largely snubbed the movie.

Instead of buying tickets to the epic set in outback Australia and Darwin, cinemagoers preferred the new Reese Witherspoon Christmas comedy Four Holidays, the teen vampire film Twilight , the new Disney animated movie Bolt and the latest James Bond flick, Quantum of Solace.

Australia , which cost $US130 million to make, made a disappointing $US10.9 million in its first three days, well behind frontrunner Four Holidays.

"It's a pretty modest opening for Australia ," president of Hollywood box office tracker,, told AAP.

Four Holidays has made $US28.2 million, Twilight $US24.2 million and third-placed Bolt $US20.2 million.

It is possible Australia could end up in a dismal seventh place when the Thanksgiving box office period ends on Sunday, with the film locked in a battle with two sequels, action film Transporter 3 and Madagascar 2, an animated movie that has been in theatres for three weeks.

Australia's poor showing could hit its Oscar hopes.

Theatre owners pull underperforming films out and replace them with box office draws such as the teen sensation, Twilight , which has amassed $US104 million in ticket sales in less than two weeks.

The Hollywood studio behind Australia, Twentieth Century Fox, may also shuffle it out of theatres and bump up the exposure for one of its big Christmas films, the sci-fi re-make starring Keanu Reeves of the 1951 classic, The Day the Earth Stood Still.

"Theatre owners are probably contractually obligated to the run Australia for 2.5 weeks," Gray said.

"Fox has The Day the Earth Stood Still opening on December 12 and that could take a lot of Australia's theatres."

The longer a film stays in theatres, the more exposure it will receive for the Oscars, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and other major Hollywood awards to be decided in the new year.

"For a film that had quite a wide release, the pressure is on Australia for it to have significant box office early on in order to stay in theatres and then capture the attention of the industry for the year end awards," Gray said.

"It only hurts a film's chances if it disappoints at the box office."

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