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'Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom' Enjoys Box-Office Success at Home

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
The Weinstein Company

Major South African exhibition chains Ster Kinekor and NuMetro report big audience interest for the film, which opened as the top film in the country on Thursday.

LONDON – South African audiences' appetite for Justin Chadwick's Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom starring Idris Elba seems to be big.

The movie, based on Nelson Mandela's autobiography Long Walk To Freedom from a screenplay by William Nicholson, was the top earner in cinemas operated by two major South African exhibition chains, Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro, as well as the leading independent cinemas groups on its opening day Thursday, producers said.

The movie, starring Elba as the anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician and Naomie Harris as Winnie Mandela, grossed over $73,000 (750,000 rand) with a daily screen average of $843 (R 8,620) Thursday Nov. 28.

This is a record for a Thursday out-of-school holiday in South Africa, especially because the film had only four shows on the day compared with six shows for other films because of its running time of over two hours, producers said.

While the dollar numbers appear small at first glance, the movie opened at number one in the country, beating the rollout of Hunger Games: Catching Fire -- it out-grossed the Jennifer Lawrence starrer in South Africa by 39 percent.

Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom is a Videovision Entertainment release through United International Pictures (South Africa).

South African producer Anant Singh, who spent 16 years developing the film, said: "It is extremely gratifying for us as filmmakers to have our home audience embrace our film and react so positively to it. We are proud that a South African film is competing so well against one of the most anticipated sequels of all time."

The film opens in the U.S. on Thanksgiving Friday, distributed by The Weinstein Company.