Warner Bros Pictures has acquired North American rights to The Dish, the Australian comic drama which opened last weekend in its home territory with the highest opening for a local film in history.

The deal marks a rare independent pick-up from Warner, coming at a time when rumours are swirling about the establishment of its own specialised distribution arm. While The Dish will be released by Warner Bros Pictures, it signals an openness to smaller films under the new studio regime of Barry Meyer and Alan Horn.

Patrick Wachsberger's Summit Entertainment acquired selected territories to The Dish prior to the London market screenings. The film reunites director Rob Sitch, producer Michael Hirsch and screenwriters Santo Cilauro and Tom Gleisner, the team behind 1997 smash The Castle. It world premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and was runner-up for the People's Choice Award.

Starring Sam Neill, Kevin Harrington and Patrick Warburton, The Dish focuses on the characters involved in ensuring that a remote Australian antenna could deliver the first broadcast of the Apollo Moon landing in 1969.

It grossed $1.56m in its first four days from 281 prints across Australia over the weekend. Roadshow Film Distributors handled the picture locally.