Monday, May 12, 2008

The Successful Veil

I confess to being interested in box office. I really shouldn't, I know this, but I find it intricately fascinating. $100million worth of people went to see Iron Man in three days? You're kidding!? But I'm always fascinated by the smaller end of the scene. The movies box office commentators don't talk about for fear of readers clicking away "this movie didn't premier in 3000 plus screens so why should I care?" ya know?

One of the films I have been following very closely at the Australian box office is The Painted Veil. The film directed by Aussie John Curren (Praise, We Don't Live Here Anymore) and starring Ed Norton and Naomi Watts that was released a year and a half ago in America. Australia was only deemed worthy to see this acclaimed Somerset adaptation three weeks ago. It reminds me of how the UK had to wait two years for The Upside of Anger for reasons I'll never know. In the time since The Painted Veil, however, was released in American the following things have happened:

  • Co-Stars Naomi Watts and Liev Shreiber have had a year-long relationship and had a child who is now ten months old,

  • Watts, Shreiber and Norton have completed eleven films combined from summer blockbusters like The Incredible Hulk (Norton) and Wolverine (Shreiber) to arthouse films like Funny Games U.S. (Watts),

  • The film won a Golden Globe and LAFCA Critics Award for Alexandre Desplat's score (below), as well as a Best Adapted Score win from the National Board of Review and two Independent Spirit Award nominations,

  • Two films (The Departed and No Country For Old Men) have won Best Picture Academy Awards,

  • Australia has had an election and change of Government, America has had seemingly year-long Democratic Party elections and Zimbabwe's President Mugabe has been voted out of office (or has he?),

  • Angelina Jolie has adopted 294 babies and 13 African nations.

So it is with amusement that I see how well The Painted Veil has done at the Australian box office. In it's first week of release it was the second highest new entry on the chart, after Deception with Hugh Jackman. It debuted at #7 with takings of just under $530,000 and a per theatre average of nearly double it's nearest rival ($10,800 versus Forgetting Sarah Marshall's $6,000 at #1).

In it's second week it rose up the chart to number four, behind only Iron Man, Made of Honour (both debuts) and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It grossed $340,500, experiencing the smallest drop of any film in the top ten. And this past weekend Veil grossed $294,000 for a number five position on the chart. So far it has grossed over $1.1mil, which equates to roughly $11million in American terms. An obvious success, I can't help but be a little bit disappointed.

If Australians - ney, anybody of any nation outside of America - make movies like this successes that's not going to stop them being released a year and a half after they premiere in the States. The Internet buzz has long gone from The Painted Veil, yet the movie is a smash hit so what's to stop the distributors just pussyfooting around release dates until they find out three years down the track that suits them? I'm still not entirely sure why we have to wait an extra month for Speed Racer.

And then Americans complain about having to wait for international movies and I just laugh myself silly.


Chris said...

I'll never understand how it's possible that it takes distributor's longer to get American films into Australian and UK cinemas than to release subtitled versions in my home country Luxembourg.

I study in UK now and it freaks me out everytime my friends get to see a film before it's released over here, even though it rarely happens.

Glenn said...

It's a mystery that will never be solved. Especially considering it costs, apparently, a lot of money to get prints subtitled.

adam k. said...

It's ok, Glenn, I'm fascinated by box office, too. Less lately, though, cause everything has been sucking, and I haven't been seeing any movies. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Better, I'd suggest, to release the film when it's possible to devote time and energy to promoting it (as the Transmission folks have) rather than the usual churn and burn approach that most distributors rely on. Having seen most of the distributors up close, I can say that most of them just throw out a couple of films a month and hope something sticks, even with local 'product'. It's just a numbers game most of the time, yet when the distributor actually expends effort and care (I'd use this as a good example, or maybe Romulus My Father which was distributed by the producers) the returns speak for themselves. And yet, nothing changes....(sigh)


how about we all feel bad for each other and not play "my country is worse than yours about distribution!" games.

i love this movie.

anyway, we just got REPRISE which has apparenlty played europe for the past two years. (sigh)