The WA-made pre- apocalyptic drama These Final Hours has had a disappointing debut at the Australian box office.
Even though it opened on 164 screens it made only $206,727, with a meagre per screen average of $1260.
Zak Hilditch's debut feature, which is about a selfish young man seeking to give his life meaning on the eve of the world's destruction, was easily beaten by the Luc Besson thriller Lucy, which raked in $4.66 million across 318 screens and Hercules, which added another $1.48 million for a total of just over $6 million.
The failure is surprising since These Final Hours has been so enthusiastically embraced since its debut last year at Melbourne International Film Festival, where it won the critic's prize.
Success seemed assured when it was invited to screen at Directors' Fortnight in Cannes in May, where it received a standing ovation, then was lavished with rave reviews in the days leading up to the release.
"The film comes on like a rash, with a visceral bleakness that is rare and confronting outside the context of genre horror," wrote the Guardian's Luke Buckmaster.
"And if These Final Hours slips a little in a plot sense, it's because Hilditch's focus ultimately lies elsewhere - in creating an experiential, brooding, disgustingly plausible hypothetical universe. By these criteria, These Final Hours is an awesome success."
The Herald-Sun's Leigh Paatsch agreed. "These Final Hours is by no means perfect but it won't be forgotten in a hurry. We need more Australian films like this."
"We are incredibly disappointed but Roadshow (the film's distributor) threw everything into the campaign," producer Liz Kearney told the IF website. "We could not have asked for a better release in terms of their support."
The film's executive producer, Robert Connolly, believes failure at the local box office is not the end of the film's life. It has large overseas sales and is already "heading towards being one of an elite group of Australian films that are profitable".