LOCAL FILM SIONE'S WEDDING BREAKS BOX OFFICE RECORD
(New Zealand Press Association Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)Wellington, April 7 NZPA - Laugh out loud comedy film Sione's Wedding has topped the box office in New Zealand with a record result for a local film in the first week of release.
It earned $834,662.
The film also had the biggest opening weekend of any New Zealand film, earning around $630,000.
The movie follows the lives of four 30-something Samoan men still acting as if they are 16, who are forced to try and mend their ways if they want to attend their best friend's wedding.
The key cast members come from the comedy theatre troupe that wrote The Naked Samoans series of shows, and bro'Town, New Zealand's first prime time animated television series.
New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Ruth Harley said today this was a ``fantastic result for a film that's a wee ripper''.
``A known group of performers have come up trumps with a film that's our version of The Castle.''
The Castle was Australia's most successful comedy film, about ordinary people facing a life-changing challenge.
Sione's star Oscar Kightley said the main goal was to make a wicked film about Samoans' place in New Zealand, but the film was also a story that reached across cultures.
Kightley is a Samoan-born actor, writer, sports presenter, television and radio host and probably one of the most recognisable faces on New Zealand television.
``There's naughty boys in every culture and girls behind them rolling their eyes,'' he told NZPA.
``The film has opened up our work to a whole new audience.''
Kightley hoped the film would spark more racial and cultural acceptance.
``Stories like this, whether they be in movies or plays or in books, help people realise that we are all not so different.
``It erases some of the fear that is born out of ignorance. Just as Whale Rider and No.2 did, we hope this film will reach out to people and create understanding.''
In a technology-driven age, the human heart still responded to a well-told story presented in a fairly traditional way, he said.
The box office result was beyond expectations, he said.
It had also been a hit in Samoa, where a premiere was held last week. Sione's Wedding, shot over just six weeks in Auckland, received major funding from the Film Commission, NZ On Air and Village Sky City Cinemas.
It is the first time that the cinema chain has invested directly in a New Zealand film.
The film was directed by John Barnett of South Pacific Pictures, who has Whale Rider on his list of credits.
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