For some months now, I have been following the success of Baz Luhrmann’s film “The Great Gatsby”. After eight weeks of release, the film is still playing in 161 Australian cinemas with a total box office of Aus$26,918,096, according to Urban Cinefile. As of 28 July 2013, it still achieved a weekly box office of $467,788, although that was down 31% from the previous week.
The North American reception of “Gatsby” is fascinating: “Gatsby” is by far Luhrmann’s most successful film there, having grossed US$143,888,405 as of 25 July 2013 (according to Box Office Mojo), with a recent increase to 302 cinemas (for reasons I do not know).
Gatsby has grossed approximately US$186,200,000 outside of North America (56.4% of its worldwide US$330million total). Outside of North America, the film has fared best in Australia, closely followed by the United Kingdom.
Compare “Gatsby” to “Australia”, Luhrmann’s next “biggest” film. According to Box Office Mojo, “Australia” grossed US$211,342,221 worldwide, a full 76.6% of that outside of North America. Although “Australia” is, at heart, a very “Australian” story, the Australian box office for that film in 2009 (US$26,521,500) is very close to the “Gatsby” box office (US$24,588,158). Given the four years difference in ticket prices and the fact that “Gatsby” is still playing in Australian cinemas, it’s highly likely that the two films will end up performing similarly here in Australia.
So, two conclusions:
- “The Great Gatsby” is definitely Luhrmann’s American hit. While $143 million is not “break out”, it’s certainly strong – and places Luhrmann for new projects.
- Following the “ten percent rule” (see David Dale in The Sydney Morning Herald of 19 May 2008), which states “movie distributors have relied on the formula that a big US movie will make in Australian dollars roughly one tenth of what it makes in US dollars”, “The Great Gatsby” is over-performing here in Australia almost by a factor of two: Aus$26,918,096 compared to US$143,888,405 is not 10%, but approaching 19% of the North American box office. So the “local” Luhrmann/produced in Sydney/Australian stars factors all certainly have made a difference.