Hunt for the Wilderpeople

has blitzed the Kiwi box office in its opening weekend taking in a record $1.3 million.

More than half a million of that came on Saturday - the highest grossing day for a New Zealand film ever.

It's estimated that 100,000 people have seen the movie in its first four days at cinemas, with audiences breaking into spontaneous applause at some screenings.


Wilderpeople knocked Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, which took $741,000 on its second weekend, into second place on the local box office chart.

The previous record for a biggest opening weekend for a New Zealand film was the Once Were Warriors sequel What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?
Wilderpeople director Taika Waititi's Kiwi box office champ Boy kicked off with the relatively modest $600,000 opening in 2010, though it increased its take on the following four weekends as word of mouth spread.

Boy ended up a local box office gross of more than $9,237,976 which is still the biggest take for a New Zealand film at home.

Waititi's previous local feature, 2014's What We Do in the Shadows, grossed slightly over $2.5 million at NZ cinemas.

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Movie review: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
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Waititi joked he regretted beating his previous record.

"We've beat Boy's opening weekend box office which made me kind of sad. But then I got over it really quick and now I'm stoked!"

"There's nothing like seeing a film the way it was meant to be seen; on a giant screen with other people and we couldn't be more proud and happy that Kiwis are heading along and all our hard work is being appreciated. Thank you New Zealand!"


Dave Gibson, head of the New Zealand Film Commission, which provided $2 million of the production's reported $3 million budget, said the film's early success was a good sign.

"We're seeing groups of people of all ages -sharing the experience and coming out for this film. It's good for everyone, especially the film industry."

Wilderpeople producers Carthew Neal and Leanne Saunders said the film was doing repeat business among some fans.

"We've had reports of cinemas sold out across the country, theatres full of applause and people seeing the film three or fours times already."

"We are blown away by this level of support and thank everyone for coming out on the weekend. This film is being seen in the way it was intended - on the big screen with whanau and friends."

WATCH: Anika Moa on the red carpet at the Wilderpeople premiere