The Daily Telegraph
by Michael Bodey
January 23, 2004
HE doesn’t earn the tens of millions guaranteed Tom Cruise or Jim Carrey, but an Australian actor beat every Hollywood star at the global box office in 2003.
In fact, three Australian actors beat film’s perceived megastars when it came to drawing people into cinemas.
Hugo Weaving’s four films earned more than US$2 billion (A$2.58 billion) in cinemas worldwide last year, US$400 million (A$516 million) more than the next best, Melbourne’s Geoffrey Rush.
And an unheralded Aussie, (albeit another who came from New Zealand), better known for his 1970s performances in Stork and Dimboola, Bruce Spence, came fifth behind Orlando Bloom and Sir Ian McKellen.
Weaving’s stellar 2003 is unlikely to be replicated by another actor soon.
He found himself simultaneously in two of cinema’s grandest trilogies — The Lord of The Rings and the Matrix film series.
The Matrix Reloaded was the pick of his bunch in 2003, earning US$940 million (A$1.2 billion) worldwide, while the final instalment, The Matrix Reloaded, earned US$538 million (A$694 million).
Due to their December releases, both Lord of The Rings chapters — The Two Towers and The Return of the King — earned much of their gross either side of the new year.
Even so, in 2003, The Two Towers earned US$570 million (A$735 million) and Return Of The King US$685 million (A$883.6 million).
Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush didn’t have the luxury of two trilogies.
Nevertheless, he starred in two of the four biggest films of the year, 2003 champion Finding Nemo (US$1.07 billion or A$1.38 billion) in which he voiced the lovable pelican Nigel, and Pirates of the Caribbean (US$845 million or A$1.09 billion).
They were topped up by his role as a profane Australian producer in the Coen Brothers’ comedy, Intolerable Cruelty (US$144 million or A$185 million) and as Francis Hare in Ned Kelly (US$9 million or A$11.6 million).
Spence is the surprise with roles as a shark in Finding Nemo, the Trainman in The Matrix Revolutions and Cookson in Peter Pan propelling his take beyond US$1.6 billion (A$2.06 billion).