The Talented Mr Ripley gave a strong performance in its opening four days to February 27, taking A$1,850,546 from 190 screens. However, it was not good enough to beat homegrown comedy The Wog Boy, which claimed the top spot by earning about A$180,000 more from 198 screens.
"I know Ripley has long legs, good word-of-mouth and a solid future," said Libby Rhys-Jones, general manager of Roadshow in New South Wales. "It is also a very different audience."
The Australian media overflowed with coverage of Ripley, partly because writer-director Anthony Minghella spent five days giving interviews, public appearances and a cocktail party for exhibitors. Other factors were the excellent visual materials available and the extra interest created by the Australians associated with the film.
"We got great mileage out of Anthony and (Sydney-based) cinematographer John Seale playing bat and ball," said Rhys-Jones. Cate Blanchett did many advance phone interviews about her on-screen role, resulting in newsstands being awash with her image. The fact that Australians Steve Andrews and Tess Schofield were 1st and 2nd ADs respectively added to the sense of ownership that audiences felt.
Roadshow's spend was one of its biggest and there were lots of television advertisements and promotional tie-ins with media outfits, cosmetics company Christian Dior and department store Grace Bros. Rhys-Jones believes the trailer intrigued audiences because it went against their expectations about what a follow-up to The English Patient would be like.