Bronwen Hughes's Stander had a disappointing world premiere in South Africa over the weekend for distributor Nu Metro.
The $15m film, starring Thomas Jane and Deborah Unger, is one of the first South African-content films that is neither driven by politics nor candid-camera type farce. It is based on the true story of Andre Stander, an apartheid era cop who became the country's most notorious bank robber.
The film was released on 50 screens - a large roll-out for the country - and grossed $59,000 (R405 589) over its opening weekend with the Brooklyn Mall cinema in Pretoria recording the highest gross of $2,648.
By way of comparison City Of God, the Brazilian crime drama also based on real-life events, grossed $11,200 on its opening weekend in early September off only five prints.
Stander is a South African/Canadian/UK co-production between Seven Arts , Grosvenor Park and The Imaginarium.
Debbie Mc Crum, general manager of Nu Metro Distribution, said, "We are slightly disappointed by the results and we expected it to be higher. The film also performed better in affluent areas, which surprised us. But as it takes place in the late 1970s, the 16-24 year old audience who normally flock to opening weekends aren't its target audience."
The distributor also opened the film on a busy weekend for sports-mad South Africans with the national cricket team battling Pakistan, their Rugby counterparts playing Uruguay in the World Cup, and South Africa's soccer players pitted against Costa Rica.
McCrum says that Nu Metro is confident that the film will develop legs over the next fortnight. The company acquired African rights in all media to the film in a pre-sales deal before it began principal photography in August last year, a unique investment from a local distributor.
Critically the film was well received on almost all fronts.
Stander will be released by Newmarket in the US.