The movie, written and directed by the man who made Goodbye Pork P' />

New Zealand director Geoff Murphy's movie Spooked has bombed at the box office.

The movie, written and directed by the man who made Goodbye Pork Pie and partly funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and businessman Eric Watson, made less than $4000 last week and grossed just $54,000 in the three weeks since opening on February 3.

In comparison, hit New Zealand-made film In My Father's Den has made more than $1.4 million since it was released late last year - with a stricter age limit.

Murphy got funding for the $2 million film from the commission and private investors.

Commission head Ruth Harley would not reveal how much the publicly funded organisation injected into Spooked. She was philosophical about its failure.

"I think the film was well promoted and both the distributor and Geoff Murphy worked hard for the film but the fire didn't blaze."

Bad reviews had "absolutely not" helped the film. She expected the organisation would now cop criticism for funding a flop.

"You always try to learn from it but all films are really individual, they are not painting by numbers and I don't know what the lesson is on Spooked," she said.

Distributor John Davies, who said he had lost "a small fortune" on the film, expected it would gross less than $80,000. It opens in provincial theatres from next week and is still playing one Auckland theatre.

The film had great performances and an interesting story, Mr Davies said, but bad reviews handicapped the film from the beginning.

"Obviously the critics weren't kind to us."

Starring Whale Rider's Cliff Curtis, Spooked is based on a book by New Zealand author Ian Wishart about the mysterious death of Auckland computer dealer Paul White.

White died in 1991 after discovering sensitive international banking records in second-hand computers.

Herald critic Russell Baillie described the plot as a "creaking edifice" in his two-star review, a rating which was typical of the film's notices in major newspapers.

Bonanzas and bombs


* Box office bonanzas:

Once Were Warriors
Whale Rider
Scarfies

* Box office bombs:

Perfect Strangers
Chicken
Send A Gorilla