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Last Cab To Darwin cost nearly $4 million to make and it’s expected to attract $8 million in ticket sales from Australia and New Zealand alone. So how come nobody got rich?


Last Cab To Darwin, directed by Jeremy Sims, cost nearly $4 million to make. It was released by Icon Film Distribution on August 6 on 225 screens, rising to 350 screens. It is expected to attract $8 million worth of ticket sales from Australia and New Zealand by the end of its cinema run, making it one of the biggest hits of the year.

While $8 million sounds like a lot of money, don’t assume anybody has got rich. About $800K will be immediately lost to GST. About two-thirds of the remaining $7.2 million will have gone to the many cinemas that played the film, leaving about $2.4 million, from which Icon will take its distribution fee of about 35%. This leaves $1.56 million in gross receipts.

Because Icon spent $200K on a distribution guarantee (DG) when it acquired the Australian and New Zealand rights and, two years later, $1.3 million on the theatrical marketing campaign (P&A), it will be repaid these amounts – and also a further $100K DG that the company outlayed when the film reached a specific box office target.

This all means that Last Cab To Darwin will more or less break even theatrically but its “success” will flow through to ancillary markets. It’s the revenues from these markets that will be used to repay the investors who put up the money to make the film – government agencies, companies and individuals. This is recoupment, not profit. It is usually shared in proportion to the size of the investment but the producers on Last Cab – as a sweetener – gave the private investors who provided nearly 20% of the budget, an accelerated recoupment position.

It is impossible to predict exactly what revenue will come back over a lengthy time period but Icon owns the rights for 15 years and expects to make a contribution margin of about $1 million – and expects the investors to get back a similar figure.

The film industry is not known for transparency. Big thanks to Icon’s Greg Hughes and his sidekicks Nick Hayes and Tracy Whybrew, and to producers Greg Duffy and Lisa Duff for taking part in this very revealing exercise.

Title Last Cab To Darwin
Release date August 4, 2015
Genre Drama
Distributor Icon Film Distribution
Sales Agent Films Distribution
Synopsis Rex, a Broken Hill cab driver, when told he doesn’t have long to live, sets out on an epic journey to Darwin in a bid to die on his own terms. Along the way he discovers that before you can end your life you have to live it, and to live it you have to share it.