Director Stuart Beattie revealed over the weekend that he will be making a sequel to Australia’s highest grossing film of the year, Tomorrow, When the War Began, which was based on the first of the popular series of books by John Marsden. Dubbed by some critics as Red Dawn Down Under, or Home and Away with guns, the plot centres on a group of teenage friends who go away on a weekend camping trip in the bush. After Australia is invaded by the army of an unnamed Asian country, they form a band of guerrillas to fight back against the occupying power.
Slightly ropey acting aside, it showed that the Australian film industry is capable of more than making dreary art house movies that nobody wants to see. Given an adequate budget (by Australian standards at least), decent production values, a photogenic cast, an effective marketing campaign, some explosions and gunfire, and a sympathetic if slightly caricatured Christian character, we can make genre films that have commercial appeal and will garner critical acclaim as well.
It grossed $13 million at the Australian box office, which is a fair effort, no doubt helped that the books have been on reading syllabuses in Australian schools for many years, which gave the film a ready audience. There were seven books in the series, but the film adaptations will be a trilogy. A release date hasn’t been set yet. Sequels are a rarity in the Australian film industry, much less ones that people will actually want to see. Kings of Mykonos: Wog Boy II, I’m talking about you.