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The Departure Lounge

The Dry breaks Australian box office drought

The Dry

Australians are flocking to locally produced films as Hollywood puts the brakes on new releases.

After a year of Covid-19-enforced shutdowns, the Australian film industry has entered 2021 in a strong position – with The Dry grossing almost $13m at the box office since its opening on 1 January.

The Robert Connolly film – financed though Screen Australia – had the fifth-highest Australian opening day for a local film in history and has outperformed Hollywood blockbuster Wonder Woman 1984 and animated family film The Croods: A New Age for the third weekend in a row.

Another Australian film, Penguin Bloom, directed by Glendyn Ivin and starring Naomi Watts, also recorded a strong opening result, grossing $2.5m since its release six days ago.

Screen Australia’s CEO Graeme Mason said the commercial success of The Dry was a heartening start to the year.

“It’s one of those titles that comes along where Australians see themselves and respond incredibly well,” he said.

“We have one or two of them a year and I think The Dry is definitely one of them. And it’s the first time in a very long time Australia has had the No 1 and No 2 films at the box office.”

It could outperform Australian classics such as Muriel’s Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and The Man from Snowy River.

Although cinemas in most states are still operating at less than full capacity, The Dry’s commercial success has not happened in spite of the pandemic, Keogh said, but partly because of it.

“It’s an excellent film, but there’s definitely not as much competition as there would generally be around January, so it’s getting more screen coverage,” he said.

“Because of Covid, Hollywood is holding back a lot of films at the moment, which is putting some pressure on our industry – so these great Australian movies are very welcome for us right now.”

Australian films took $22.6m at the local box office in 2020, with The Invisible Man, which was shot in Sydney between July and September 2019, accounting for more than one third of the total.

Five Australian Books you could read right now

With The Falling Of The Dusk - Stan Grant

Even if you are not an avid reader, the pandemic must have nudged you to pick up a book or at least think of resume reading.  The involuntary semi-lockdown mode of life gives everyone a reason to read a book for no reason, other than pleasure or distraction. So, here are five random Australian books you could pick up and read.

Eating With My Mouth Open – Sam Van Zweden

Welcome to food writing as you’ve never read before. This collection of interconnecting essays go far beyond simply facts or recipes – here, you’ll find Sam van Zweden’s enchantingly personal and cultural exploration of food, memory, and hunger as it revels in body positivity, dissects wellness culture and all its flaws, and shares the joys of being part of a family of chefs. Tuck into this one in 2021.

A Room Called Earth – Madeline Ryan

This brilliant debut from neuro-divergent author Madeline Ryan will unveil the magical and sensitive world of life on the autism spectrum. Telling the story of a girl as she prepares for, attends and leaves a party, this novel is minutely aware of the details and people who come into view, with radical revelations on the nature of love and the need to belong. Hilarious, self-aware and painfully honest – this is bound to be one you share with your friends.


Love Objects – Emily Maguire

If you’ve ever been fascinated by hoarding, you won’t be able to let this read go. Forty-five year old Nic seems well and good to her niece Lena at their weekly catch-up gossips sessions, but after Nic fails to turn up one day, Lena is shocked to find her unconscious in a house filled to the brim – almost as shocked as Nic is to return from hospital to an empty house she can barely recognise as her home. Light but thought-provoking, this is the perfect sofa companion this year.


With The Falling Of The Dusk – Stan Grant

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case, you shouldn’t judge this new read from Grant by its title either. Far from gentle, this is a full-blown exploration of many of the largest social and political issues facing us today, from islamic extremism to climate change. Intricately woven between personal experience and intellectual understanding, this is the book to read if you want to get a grip on the tides turning today.


Echolalia – Briohny Doyle

Subtly swinging between the before and the after, this inventive novel from the writer of This Island Will Sink is a hauntingly necessary tale of a world on the brink. Set in a fictional regional town struck by drought, Echolalia follows six different character through change and transformation in a dangerously critical world not too dissimilar to our own. Touching on climate change, the refugee crisis and inequality, you’ll be thinking about Echolalia long after you put it down.

$71 million each to be an International Space Station crew

Space station crew

If your travel bug has taken a vaccine in 2020 and you want to experience something beyond an international flight, here is something to consider.

For $71 million, you could have been part of the first all-private International Space Station crew. The first fully private, multi-person space station crew has been introduced: three men who are each paying $US55 million ($71 million) to fly on a SpaceX rocket.

The flight will mark the first tourist flight to the ISS since 2009, when Russian Soyuz rockets carried individual passengers.

An experienced former NASA astronaut will be mission commander and pilot.

Each passenger had to pass medical tests and will get 15 weeks of training.

They will be led by a former NASA astronaut now working for Axiom Space, the Houston company that arranged the trip for next January.

Space tourists have taken individual flights to the ISS aboard Russian rockets, but this will be the first flight carrying multiple private astronauts, on a private rocket.

The first crew will spend eight days at the space station and will take one or two days to get there aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule following lift-off from Cape Canaveral.

Other space companies like Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin plan to take paying customers on up-and-down flights lasting just minutes. These trips — much more affordable with seats going for hundreds of thousands versus millions — could kick off this year.

Axiom’s first customers include Larry Connor, a real estate and tech entrepreneur from Dayton, Ohio, Canadian financier Mark Pathy and Israeli businessman Eytan Stibbe, a close friend of Israel’s first astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was killed in the space shuttle Columbia accident in 2003.


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