John Michael McDonagh Beats Brother to Snag Irish Box Office Crown

Jonathan Hession
"The Guard"

The filmmaker's "The Guard," starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle tops his sibling's first outing, "In Bruges."

LONDON – John Michael McDonagh can now lay claim to family box office bragging rights as his directorial debut The Guard, starring Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle beat his brother Martin’s first outing In Bruges to the most successful Irish independent film of all time.

Sibling rivalry aside, John Michael McDonagh’s Irish-set tale also beat veteran filmmaker Ken Loach’s The Wind That Shakes The Barley and Veronica Guerin to take home the Emerald Isle indie crown.

Barley took €4.1 million ($5.5 million) in Ireland while Guerin garnered  €4 million ($5.4 million) on its rollout across the Emerald Isle.

McDonagh’s tale of an Irish policeman, and FBI agent and drug traffickers, has laughed darkly all the way to €4.1 million ($5.6 million) in Ireland.

Not only does that beat the previous tallies of Loach and co but also surpasses this year’s Irish grosses for movies including The Hangover Part II, The King’s Speech, Transformers: Dark Of The Moon and Pirates of the Carribbean: On Stranger Tides.

The Guard, with a budget of $6 million has taken just south of $3 million stateside for distributor Sony Pictures Classics and now in its sixth week the rollout has expanded to 201 screens in the U.S.

Brother Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges -- with a reported budget of $15 million, out-gunning his brother’s --  took north of $7.5 million for distributor Focus Features in the U.S.

Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, The Guard is produced by his partners at Reprisal Films, Chris Clark and Flora Fernandez Marengo, along with Ed Guiney and Andrew Lowe of Element Pictures.

Element Pictures Distribution is distributing the film in Ireland.

John Michael McDonagh said: “It's been extremely satisfying for me that such a hard-drinking, whoring, drug-taking, anti-authoritarian character as Sergeant Gerry Boyle has struck so resounding a chord with Irish and International audiences. It's also extremely satisfying to knock Ken Loach into second place. He's had about thirty goes at making films, I've only had one.”

The Guard is an Irish/U.K. co-production, backed by the Irish Film Board and Section 481 as well as International Financiers.