Big weekend lights fire at Oz b.o.


SYDNEY -- A mockumentary and a documentary have set the Australian boxoffice alight with their opening weekends after a quiet start to the year for Australian films, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia.

The comedy "Razzle Dazzle" and documentary "Bra Boys" took nearly AUS$1 million ($800,000) between them in the four days ending March 18, breaking local opening records along the way, the distributors said.

"Bra Boys," narrated by Russell Crowe, is an insider's look at the turbulent lives of professional surfers the Abberton brothers, who come from the impoverished Sydney beachside suburb of Maroubra and are part of the Bra Boys, a notorious local gang.

The story of the Abbertons, two of who faced charges linked to murder while filming, also details the Bra Boys' role as peacemakers in Sydney's race riots in 2006 and showcases their abilities as world champion big wave riders.

Made by Sunny Abberton and fellow Bra Boy Marcario de Souza, the documentary took a whopping AUS$423,391 ($338,000) for a per-screen average of AUS$8,308 ($6,646) and broke records as the biggest opening-day release for an Australian docu.

Distributor Hopscotch Films plans to widen the movie's release by 27 more screens, for a total of 74, and said it hopes the film will reach AUS$600,000 ($480,000) in its first week of release, putting it well on its way to becoming the top-grossing Australian docu of all time.

"It's wonderful that the public has embraced a homegrown story about an Australian way of life. It has no Hollywood stars or special effects, but judging by the cheers in the cinemas, the film is an exciting ride," Hopscotch Films managing director Troy Lum said.

"Bra Boys" was the second-highest-opening film for the weekend behind "Hot Fuzz," which grossed $1.69 million on 186 screens.

Meanwhile, "Razzle Dazzle" earned AUS$478,306, (including previews), narrowly beating the opening weekend gross of last year's breakout comedy "Kenny."

Starring Kerry Armstrong and British actor Ben Miller, "Razzle Dazzle" deals with politics, dance school rivalry, creative controversy and the hysterics of pushy stage mothers, as the students at two dance schools prepare to take part in Australia's most prestigious dance competition.

Said Antonio Zeccola, managing director of the film's local distributor, Palace Films: "We are so pleased that 'Razzle Dazzle' is being embraced by audiences nationwide. Like 'Strictly Ballroom,' 'Kenny' and 'Priscilla (Queen of the Desert),' 'Razzle Dazzle' has humor, heart and a sense fun and will definitely take its place amongst the Australian greats."

"Razzle Dazzle," which had its world premiere at February's Berlin International Film Festival, was made with funding from the FFC in association with the NSW Film and Television Office. Celluloid Dreams is handling international sales.