'Mao' dances to top 2009 opening

Beresford film has fourth all-time opening week in Australia

SYDNEY -- "Mao's Last Dancer" has reignited the local boxoffice here, taking AUS$4.3 million ($3.87 million) in its opening week to become the highest-grossing Australian film of the year to date and the fourth highest-grossing Australian opening week of all-time, distributors Roadshow Film and Hopscotch Films said Thursday.

Bruce Beresford's dance epic had a screen average of $14,200 on 267 screens, the highest for any release this week, and was second place overall in a school holiday week, beaten only by Disney/Pixar's "Up."

The film was runner-up for the People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it had its world premiere. Celluloid Dreams is the international sales agent.