The controversy, and subsequent awareness, surrounding French film Baise-Moi has led to its limited release performing about three times the business expected by its Australian distributor, Potential.
The film's gross of $49,419 (A$91,426) from just three screens over its first four days to April 28, gave a screen average of $16,473 - more than three times any other film on release.
Exhibitors report a very mixed audience but few complaints. Baise-Moi has an R18+ rating, restricting it to people 18 years and over, but is to be re-examined by the Classification Review Board on May 10.
There is no more restrictive cinema classification and the violence it contains makes it ineligible for the X18+ that is just for sexually explicit material on video. This means the board will either uphold the original decision - made after a 6:5 vote - or ban the film.
"People are going out of curiosity because the film moved off the arts pages to the news pages. It has not been the case that people are not liking it and that means the classification advice is working," said Potential's owner Mark Spratt. "We are not getting the reaction that this should not be allowed. The voices calling for it to be banned sound small and irrelevant. I would be very surprised if it is banned."
In 2000, another controversial French film, Romance, grossed an impressive $351,351 (A$650,000) for Potential, and Baise-Moi has a good chance of matching its success.
Romance found itself in the spotlight for similar reasons: it was banned - "refused classification" in official wording - and the groups that lobby for Australians' freedom to see what they want successfully overturned the ruling.
Even more media has been generated by Baise-Moi because it is already on release. While Potential does not expect the film to be banned, it will explore legal solutions or cut the film if it is.