Second Hand Wedding, a hit that hasn’t made a profit

According to Second Hand Wedding director Paul Murphy, his 2008 hit New Zealand comedy – released in Australia last week by Potential Films – is yet to make a profit.

“Due to great DVD and airline sales we have managed to climb from 30 percent (cinema income) to around 60 percent recoupment, which has been distributed proportionately to investors – including deferred payments to cast and crew. As successful as the film is considered, it has still failed to make a profit as yet,” Murphy told Encore.

Murphy said that due to the way the income is distributed, Garage Sale Productions only receives approximately 15 percent of the box office intake. 

“The film made around NZ$1.9m, so approximately $280,000 came back to the filmmakers. It was shot on a production budget of around $200,000 and received a post grant of $700,000 from the New Zealand Film Commission for a total budget of around $900,000,” he explained.

About his experience working with Ruth Harley – the then CEO of the New Zealand Film Commission and current CEO of Screen Australia -, Murphy says he found the executive “very supportive”.

“From the moment we approached the NZFC for the money to finish the film, Ruth was a crucial factor which enabled us to receive that funding,” said Murphy.

Although Murphy did not participate in the recent review of the NZFC (headed by director Peter Jackson and AFTRS’ David Court), Murphy did “read it with interest” and found it “a valid and fair assessment”.

“I have always been an advocate for talent-focused support. My only concern is it was a little biased to encourage and support emerging filmmakers but it didn’t really investigate how more experienced filmmakers may be assisted more effectively,” he lamented.

Second Hand Wedding tells the story of happily-married Jill and Brian Rose, who are looking forward to their daughter Cheryl’s wedding – but Cheryl has issues with her mother’s voracious bargain hunting, which she fears will ruin her wedding.

Two years after the New Zealand release of the film, Murphy says that even if he had the chance, he wouldn’t change anything.

“The main strength of Second Hand Wedding is its heart. From the moment I first read the script, I felt I knew the characters and cared about what happens to them. It was a once in a lifetime experience to work with such a giving cast and crew, who with the promise of nothing, gave everything,” said Murphy.

In Murphy’s opinion, the success of his film and this year’s Boy comes from the audience’s emotional investment in their stories.

“Audiences were given films which had characters that they were encouraged to laugh and cry with. This has always been the key for me when I watch a film, and I believe if these elements are considered from the conception through to production of a film, the more successful these films will be,” said Murphy.


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