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'Mt Zion' Tops the New Zealand Box Office

Mt Zion H

The indigenous family feature, starring "Australian Idol" winner Stan Walker, grossed more on its opening day than the biggest New Zealand film of all time, “Boy”.

SYDNEY -- New Zealand independent feature Mt Zion, has opened near the top of the all-time box office list for a domestic film, taking NZ$200,007 ($164,765) at number one on Tuesday in its home territory, the New Zealand Film Commission said Thursday.

Released on Waitangi Day, a national holiday, Mt Zion stars Maori singer Stan Walker -- the winner of the final season of Australian Idol -- in a family-oriented feature telling the story of a man named Turei and his relatives, hard-working potato farm contractors in rural Pukekohe. A talented musician, Turei dreams of his band, Small Axe, being the support act for Bob Marley’s 1979 tour. But it’s a dream that challenges the traditions and values of his traditional upbringing and sets him at odds with his family.

Co-incidentally Waitangi Day, Feb. 6, is Bob Marley’s birthday.

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Andrew Cornwell, general manager of the film’s local distributor, Sony Pictures New Zealand, said: “This is a fantastic result. It’s almost double the opening day of the biggest hit New Zealand movie, Boy, and second only to Sione’s 2: Unfinished Business [for top] opening. Congratulations to the filmmakers on this early success.”

“I applaud the whole team behind Mt Zion,” added New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Graeme Mason. “From writer-director Tearapa Kahi, producer Quinton Hita and executive producer Christina Milligan to every member of the cast, crew, production, post-production and distribution team -- this is a brilliant recognition of their talent and hard work.”

The film also features Temuera Morrison, Miriama Smith, Troy Kingi, David Wikaira-Paul and Darcey-Ray Flavell-Hudson.

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Mt Zion is a Small Axe Films production made in association with the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air, Māori Television and Te Māngai Pāho. NZ Film is handling international sales.