Malta-filmed Adrift buoyant at the box office
The movie Adrift may have been shot in Malta without much ado - at least to the public eye - and gone by relatively unnoticed, unlike other bigger films. But it has made quite a splash since it was released in Europe four weeks ago.
According to the trade magazine Variety, the movie has grossed $1.1 million in Spain, where its executive producer Stephan Barth told The Times it was very successful, and $1.3 million in the UK. The box-office total for Germany, where it has been called Open Water 2, was $919,933, with which Mr Barth was "more than happy".
The movie is soon to be released in the rest of Europe, including France and Italy.
For an independent production, the takings are considered to be reasonably good, and a film like Adrift is expected to be even more popular on DVD.
Shot here last summer over about eight weeks, and currently being screened in local theatres, Adrift has received some rave reviews.
It was awarded four stars in the Culture magazine of The Sunday Times of London by the respected film critic Cosmo Landesman, who is "generally quite harsh in his observations and limited with his praise of most films he is writing about", Luisa Bonello from the Malta Film Commission said.
"He gave it a very good four-star rating, and the full-length piece was also given the place of prominence for the week. A small independent film such as Adrift would normally warrant a brief overview in the sidebar, and would not be the main feature of the film section," Ms Bonello said.
The "supposedly cynical and sophisticated seen-it-all film critic" - as he described himself - said he was reduced to a sweaty, nervous wreck, squirming in his seat when he watched the movie.
As regards what the feedback of the film signified for Malta's industry, Ms Bonello said that since it was mostly shot in the water tanks, few members of the public would be aware that the island was used as a location.
However, she said, the success of the film and its technical accomplishments should contribute to industry awareness about Malta, especially in active European markets such as Germany, as well as prove that the water tanks are still a major asset for the local film-servicing sector.
Ms Bonello also pointed out that Mexico has water tanks of its own, but it was more cost-effective for the German production company Orange Pictures to shoot in Malta, despite the fact that the movie is set in Mexico.
The gripping thriller's production notes state that Malta's shoreline shares a number of geographic similarities with Mexico.
"A crucial factor in selecting Malta was the incomparable local water tank facilities, which were customised for the requirements of the film crew. A major part of the schedule was shot in one of the biggest outdoor tanks in the world."
Then entitled Godspeed, it had pumped around x1.2 million into the economy, Mr Barth had said.
The movie's original budget was around x2 million, but this was increased considerably due to hiccups the production encountered - mainly when its director of photography broke his leg two weeks into shooting. The show went on and he continued working - from a wheelchair.
The making of the movie was not free of problems and it also went over schedule by two weeks due to the fact that Steven Spielberg's Munich was being shot here simultaneously and resources were blocked.
Overall, the production had a positive experience - Mr Barth described MFS as a high-tech studio area with good manpower, boasting lots of experience.
He had also commented about the "pirate" mentality when it came to costs, and admitted that the German way was to "make big movies with little money". He seems to have been proved right.
Mr Barth is currently working on Red Baron and has another three projects in the pipeline, one of them possibly to be shot in Malta, he said.
Based on a harrowing true story, Adrift is about a weekend cruise, aboard a luxury yacht, that goes horribly awry for a group of old friends when they forget to lower the ladder before they jump into the ocean for a swim. The boat proves impossible to climb, leaving them adrift, miles from shore.
To make matters worse, the main character, Amy, must contend with her crippling fear of the water and the horror that her baby is still on board.
As the reality of their situation sinks in, the friends begin to turn on each other. Soon, the exhaustion of keeping afloat and the struggle to get back on board begin to take a terrible toll and what started as a joyful reunion becomes a fight for survival.