Australian title Chopper has grossed an impressive $0.7m (A$1.2m) from 132 screens in its opening four days in its home territory, giving Australia its third resounding local hit this year.
The Palace release, which grossed an additional $176,000 (A$300,000) in previews, is also Australia's second number one domestic title this year. Writer-director Andrew Dominik's haunting, violent portrait of one of the country's best-known living criminals is not the most obvious choice of Saturday night audiences and this was the only day on which it failed to out-perform Columbia TriStar's The Patriot, which is currently in its third week.
As Chopper's "R" rating restricts audiences to 18 years and over - and Australian productions don't have a history of R ratings - it's difficult to estimate the film's final gross. The most high-profile local film to be given this rating in the last decade is Geoffrey Wright's gang flick Romper Stomper which grossed $3.2m when it was released in 1992.
Chopper's opening figures are similar to those for the much broader Australian film Looking For Alibrandi, which opened on 173 screens against Gladiator so never had a chance of reaching the top spot. The film has only just dropped out of the top 20 chart after 12 weeks with an impressive $4.9m (A$8.3m).
Australian comedy The Wogboy, which grossed $6.7m (A$11.4m), did $1.2m (A$2m) in its opening weekend from 198 screens. However Chopper's core audience is more like last year's Two Hands, which took $473,000 (A$807,000) at its opening from 123 screens, and ended up at $3.2m (A$5.5m). Two Hands was not classified "R" but neither did it have the automatic recognition factor flowing from the real Chopper's nine books.
TOP FIVE RECENT AUSTRALIAN FILMS
(in the 18 months since January 1999)
Film/(Distributor)/Release date/Gross (A$m)
The Wogboy (20th Century Fox) Feb 2000 A$11.4m
Looking For Alibrandi (Roadshow) May 2000 A$8.2m
Two Hands (REP) July 1999 A$5.5m
The Craic (Roadshow) April 1999 A$5.3m
Me, Myself, I (BVI) April 2000 A$2.7m