Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Australian musical The Sapphires rang up $A2.3M ($2.4M) in its debut Down Under this weekend, ranking 2nd behind the The Dark Knight Rises in its 4th frame and ahead of the opening of The Campaign. The film’s four-day tally bodes well for the feel-good pic which The Weinstein Co. acquired on the eve of the Cannes Film Festival in May. Last year’s Oz-made hit, Red Dog, took $1.8M in its first weekend and went on to be the biggest local picture of 2011. It was also crowned Best Film by the Australian Academy. Although The Sapphires is a sort of Aboriginal Dreamgirls that could tune up awards heat, Harvey Weinstein told Deadline’s Pete Hammond in Cannes that he doesn’t see it following in the Oscar dancesteps of The Artist. Rather, he said the film was an entertaining comedy-musical he hopes will draw good word of mouth and turn out to be a sleeper hit. Directed by Wayne Blair, it’s based on the true story of four singers from the Outback who entertained U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968. Chris O’Dowd co-stars. The Weinstein Co. acquired worldwide rights to The Sapphires, with the exclusion of the UK & Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, France, Canada, Israel, and Portugal. There’s no date yet for the U.S.