THE SAPPHIRES Wows Australian Box Office
The Sapphires is one such film, and if you'll pardon the pun, something of a rare gem. It's a true crossover film that takes a story that on the surface may have seemed an unlikely commercial proposition (and which could have also been told in a far more political way - see the excellent Mabo for an example of this) and turned it into an inspirational, universal story of struggle and success.
I saw the film at the Melbourne International Film Festival and while it's got some pacing issues and is comprised largely of vignette storytelling, I can easily see why audiences are responding to it so well - and why the Weinsteins picked it up for US release. This is why it's worth focusing on, as not only is it going gangbusters in it's local market, but it's showing all the hallmarks of a major commercial success that's not held back by the usual parochial limitations that tend to stymie the success of broad Australian films overseas.
Clocking $8.4 million in three weeks, The Sapphires is now the top Australian film of the year in its local box office, beating out Happy Feet Two's 2012 gross - although it will take another week for The Sapphires to completely pass that sequel's total 2011/12 gross of $10.7 million. Already this is something of a hot miracle, especially when you realize that in recent weeks it's held its own against The Bourne Legacy, Hope Springs, and Total Recall - which was also set in Australia! Heh.
Last week The Sapphires clocked a screen average of $7226; very respectable and healthy. Going into its fourth week it's still playing on 280 screens or so. Australians as audiences love to hang back a bit and wait for their friends to tell them that an Australian film is worth seeing, so while the film appears to be slowing down, it could also be settling into a marathon pace. Either way, I'm sure Harvey is watching it very closely.
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