Whale Rider

Release Date: June 6, 2003
Limited release

There can be only one.

New at BOP:
Share & Save
Digg Button  
Set in modern day New Zealand, Whale Rider tells the story of 12-year old Pai, and her grandfather Koro, who is the chief of Pai's Whangara tribe. The tribe is falling apart. The youth are moving away, or turning to crime, or just aren't interested in the colorful history of the tribe. The title refers to a legendary chief from long ago who rode a whale to bring his people to their land. Now, the tribe needs a new leader, but the chief must be a first-born male. The film opens with Koro's son losing his wife giving birth to twins. The male twin also dies, but the girl, Pai, lives. Flash ahead 11 years, and the plot revolves around Koro and Pai, and Koro's frustration that Pai was not born male. Koro must still find a chief, and turns to the community for first-born males, training them in the ways of the old leaders. Pai, because of her gender, cannot attend the training, and becomes alienated from Koro, as she does not understand why gender-bias should play into it. Whale Rider is like a mirror image of The Matrix; this time there is universal knowledge from the audience as to who The One is, but in this film, the leader doesn't see it.

Whale Rider is from Newmarket Films, distributor of 2000's Memento and 2001's Donnie Darko. Newmarket has found great success in picking up these small festival films, and turning them into word of mouth hits. Whale Rider should be no different; it is such a good movie that success will be found either in theatres or on home video.

The film started playing limited release on June 6, 2003 and expanded to 163 screens on June 27, grossing $1 million over that weekend. The beautifully shot, award winning film has a budget of $4.3 million, and it is my hope that the investment is returned ten-fold.

Vital statistics for Whale Rider
Main Cast Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Cliff Curtis
Director Niki Caro
Screenwriter Niki Caro
Distributor Newmarket Film Group
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site http://www.whaleriderthemovie.com/
Rating PG-13
Running Time 101 minutes
Screen Count 9
Also see David Mumpower reviews Whale Rider
Kim Hollis reviews Whale Rider
  • Rotterdam International Film Festival 2003 Audience Award
  • San Francisco International Film Festival Won Audience Award Best Narrative Feature
  • Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle Award Best Director Niki Caro Sundance Film Festival Won Audience Award World Cinema Toro

Awards page for Whale Rider
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture

Comparison films for Whale Rider
Adjusted Opening
Total BO
Adjusted Total
Lion King, The 6/24/9440.89 60.43 2552 16023.00 22777.8 312.78 462.25 7.56
Matrix, The 4/2/9927.78 33.10 2849 9751.00 11133.0 171.38 204.23 5.82
Contact 7/11/9720.58 27.03 1923 10702.00 13523.2 100.92 132.57 4.90
Hope Floats 5/29/9814.21 18.26 2367 6003.00 7423.8 60.11 77.28 4.23
Horse Whisperer, The 5/15/9813.69 17.60 2039 6714.00 8303.0 75.37 96.90 5.51
Memento 5/4/011.22 1.30 445 2733.00 2805.6 25.93 27.67 13.56



Need to contact us? E-mail a Box Office Prophet.
Monday, March 1, 2021
© 2021 Box Office Prophets, a division of One Of Us, Inc.