George Miller’s Three Thousand Years left longing at the box office

The Australian director hasn't seen release figures this bad since Lorenzo's Oil in 1992 ... but there's still cause for optimism.
Tilda Swintoni genie'slair

Three Thousand Years of Longing, George Millers bit of father/daughter shared creativity arrived this weekend with a lot of pizzaz and plenty of verve. Surely it will cut through the glums. 

Miller and Hyde

It made $423k off 246 screens, despite a reasonable advertising effort from Roadshow. The same company was involved in Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, which made $544,000 off 263 screens. Good Luck had Emma Thompson, Daryl McCormack and Australian director Sophie Hyde. Three Thousand Years had George Miller, Tilda Swinton and Idris Elba. The fact that such different Australian(ish) films had such similar results is surely surprising. And we really need Three Thousand Years to do well.

Read: Leo Grand – ScreenHub review

Read: 3000 Years of Longing – ScreenHub review

Has Mr Miller been humiliated? No, anything but, because the picture took just under $10m in its first weekend around the world. It is not streaming. 

Internationally, Leo Grande has been out since June and has taken $6m with no US release, because it is on Hulu. [All figures in AU$]

With no evidence either way, I am left to wonder if Leo Grande would have done around the same in the US as Three Thousand Years if it had been given a cinema chance. My prejudices about US audiences say probably not. 

Our other favourite veteran Baz Luhrmann is doing just fine and is worth another cute comparison.

Luhrmann and Luhrmann

The Great Gatsby and Elvis both came from the Luhrmann empire, and had almost the same real budget. As we noted at the end of June, they opened with almost identical box office figures. Remarkably, that turned into a kind of psychic link. Now, at the end of its Australian run, Elvis just pipped Gatsby by around $1m to make about $34m. Internationally, as we feared, Gatsby took $663m around the world against Elvis with $415m, all adjusted for inflation and currencies. Respectable beats raffish. 

At the same time, we worked out that Elvis needed $360m to go into profit, which it has done handily. We think the Luhrmann gang will have difficulty relaxing their smiles. 

Time stops in cinema foyers.  

In the middle of a dreary mega movie slump, it has also turned out that Australian cinemas are stuck in a modern Groundhog Day! Bullet Train is still on top in week five, with 335 screens yielding $883,000 to bring the total to $10.19m. Internationally, the shiny train that could has made a reasonable $290m, with nothing from Japan. And only $1.33m from South Korea, where they love their trains. With a budget of $130m, it is flashing through the financial stations but still full of second-class passengers. 

What happens if we compare it with another zany film that mucks around with time, genre and bewildered antiheroes? Everything Everywhere All at Once made a mere $140m, to the horror of optimists like me. Bullet Train clearly kept that younger audience while the oldsters affection is almost perverse. 

Read: Everything Everywhere All at Once – ScreenHub review

Read: Bullet Train – ScreenHub review

At number two we find  all the joys of Top Gun: Maverick, still there after 15 weeks with $90.37m in total, bolstered by this weekends $819,000 which is an increase of 30%. 

Orphan: First Kill, is at number three in its opening week, with $736,000 on the weekend and $14.15m around the world and growing despite streaming. The budget is around $30m.

Thor: Love and Thunder arrived on 8 July and began to hunt down Minions: the Rise of Gru, which was two weeks and $9m ahead. At the end of July, Thor pipped Gru by $10,000, and Gru never quite made it back in front. Thor now has $44.11m and Gru is festering on $42.98m, as that gap refuses to grow or shrink. So they too are stuck in the same tar pit.  Mind you, the exhibitors probably don’t care and value Gru more for its younger audience. 

Here are some minor results: Bosch and Rockit has made $221,000 in three weeks; Falling for Figaro has cleared a million in eight weeks; Crimes of the Future $48,000 in three weeks; NZ film Juniper, with Charlotte Rampling ,has made $262,000 in five weeks and is now on 24 screens. 

And, just to be really depressing, Del Katherine Barton’s Australian surge of imagination, Blaze, has taken $29,000 in two weeks off 31 screens. 

Next Weekend

The After Ever series of US romantic dramas now extends to four films. The latest, After Ever Happy, is about to open. After we Collided made $4.3m here in 2010; expect this one to be modest as well. Flux Gourmet is a horror film, and The Quiet Girl is a well-reviewed Irish film about a neglected child sent to rural foster parents. 

To cheer us up, the documentary Franklin is launching:

‘Eighth-generation Tasmanian and environmentalist Oliver Cassidy embarks on a life-changing solo rafting trip down the beautiful yet remote Franklin River. His goal is to retrace his late father’s 14-day expedition to attend the blockade that saved the World-Heritage listed national park from being destroyed by a huge hydroelectric dam project in the early 1980s.’

You can imagine how beautiful this film is. And the names associated with it are a roll call of dedicated independence. Producer is Annie Venables, it is written by Kasimir Burgess, Clare Smith and Natasha Pincus, the sound designer is Emma Bortignon.. 

Kasimir Burgess, who directed the film, has also made Fell and The Leunig Fragments. 

David Tiley was the Editor of Screenhub from 2005 until he became Content Lead for Film in 2021 with a special interest in policy. He is a writer in screen media with a long career in educational programs, documentary, and government funding, with a side order in script editing. He values curiosity, humour and objectivity in support of Australian visions and the art of storytelling.