Hoyts Ashfield cinema (Sydney) sold 40,000 tickets in four weeks.
Keith Adams at The Canberra Theatre Playhouse 1981
Handbill – letter box
Background to Northern Safari
A bloke bowls in off the street and wants to show a 16mm home movie of his trip through outback Australia.
“Northern Safari – an amazing true film in gorgeous color”.
“Don’t call us Mr. Adams, we’ll call you”.
The outback travel film scorned by exhibitors in 1960 has since grossed $30 million.
It was screening in eight countries. In London it ran for three months five sessions per day in regent Street theatre.
It Queensland it set 27 box office records and did better in Northern Queensland than did The Sound of Music.
Some home movie.
“I’ve been lucky, I made a picture that appeals” says Keith Adams who was an automotive engineer who turned his home movie into a mini industry.
Here’s how it happened.
Keith F. Adams was a keen hunter and crack shooter who used to spend his holidays roaming around remote northern Australia.
In 1960 Keith sold his business and with wife Audrey and sister Margret and fox terrier ‘Tiger’ took off on a six month filming safari.
It was a tough 9000 mile slog from Perth, Western Australia across the Gibson Desert to the Gulf of Carpentaria, Darwin and back through Western Australia.
The family trek produced an exciting record of a primitive environment. It took three years of editing and return trips before the film was ready for commercial showings.
The big theatre chains would not handle the film. Keith had to do this himself by hiring theatres. Fortunately the arrival of television in 1956 was sending all large suburban theatres broke. Some were available to hire. Even better was if a percentage deal could be negotiated with both parties sharing the profits and less risk for Keith.
In 1966 Keith went to Sydney and hired the Hoyts Ashfield suburban theatre which had been closed for months. In 21 screenings Keith drew 40,000 patrons all paying a premium ticket price above the normal admission prices. After that success Hoyts put the film into their oldest city cinema, The Palace in Pitt Street where it ran for six weeks before beginning a tour of their country theatres.
Today (1973) Keith has 20 prints of the Northern Safari and the film is being shown in New Zealand, Australia, England, Canada and USA.
Keith has a unique distribution method. He does the first shows in any new country and then hands the film over to one of his Aussie mates who travels with a 16mm projector. Hotel and advertising expenses are paid for and they share the profits 50-50.
Film makers around the world write to Keith asking if he would distribute their film but he declines. Neither will he tackle making another film. “One is enough”.