The New Zealand premiere was held in Wanganui and was attended by Prime Minister, Helen Clarke, along with the producers, director and key cast.

The New Zealand cinema release of River Queen opened in January 2006 at number one and stayed in the top twenty list for more than three months. The film, financed by the New Zealand Film Commission (NZFC), Film Production Fund, UK Film Consortium, UK Film Council, Endgame Entertainment and Capital Pictures was seen by more than 105,000 kiwis and grossed over $1 million dollars.

The Dominion Post reviewer, Tom Cardy wrote: “It’s one of the best Kiwi films of the past ten years.”

River Queen had its New Zealand television premiere on TV3 in December 2007.  It attracted the highest number of viewers (357,000) for any New Zealand feature film broadcast during the year.


The Australian theatrical release began in June after a premiere at the 2006 Sydney Film Festival where the director answered questions at two sold-out screenings.

After the festival, Ward spent two days doing interviews with Australian media.  In a review by Vicky Roach, Sydney Daily Telegraph, she writes “River Queen is the sort of troubled gothic love story New Zealand filmmakers do so well.”


The British theatrical release began in February 2008 at the Apollo West End.

On BBC Radio 5, Mark Kermode said the film was “poetic and brilliantly shot … breathtaking and beautiful” with a script that was “brilliant.” In the Guardian, Peter Bradshaw praised “the handsome location photography and fervent performances.” He noted: “What is interesting about Ward’s story is that the dividing lines [between the indigenous people and their imperial oppressor] are not as clear as they seem.”


The world premiere was held at the Toronto International Film Festival and was attended by director Vincent Ward, producers Don Reynolds and Chris Auty.


River Queen screened at the Hawaii Film Festival’s closing night with the director as a festival guest.

The Hollywood Reporter chose the film as one of five “pick of picks” from 200 titles in the festival programme.


River Queen was released in South African cinemas in October 2007.

The Sunday Times commenting that it is “steeped in legend and traditional culture, with a cast of top Maori actors.”


The Asian premiere was held in Korea at the Pusan Film Festival to an outdoor audience of 3000 people and was introduced by Ward and actor, Temuera Morrison.

Both Ward and Morrison, also attended the film’s screenings at the opening nights of the New Zealand Film Festival in Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore, and the Bangkok Film Festival.  River Queen won a Golden Goblet at the Shanghai Film Festival, for its music score from a jury lead by French director Luc Besson.

NZ Film has licensed the film for release in China, Korea and Thailand. The film’s British sales agent Celsius has completed sales to a further 20 territories including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece, Poland, the Middle East and Brazil. Sales to the United States and Japan were under negotiation at the end of the year in review.

– Lyndsay Shelton, from NZFC annual report 2007/2008