Paper Planes (film)

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Paper Planes
Australian theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Connolly
Produced by Robert Connolly
Liz Kearney
Maggie Miles
Written by Robert Connolly
Steve Worland
Starring Sam Worthington
David Wenham
Ed Oxenbould
Deborah Mailman
Music by Nigel Westlake
Cinematography Tristan Milani
Edited by Nick Meyers
Distributed by Roadshow Films
Release date
  • 15 January 2015 (2015-01-15) (Australia)
Running time
96 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Box office A$9.61 million[1]

Paper Planes is a 2015 Australian 3D children's drama film directed by Robert Connolly which he co-wrote with Steve Worland and co-produced with Liz Kearney and Maggie Miles. The film stars Sam Worthington, David Wenham, Deborah Mailman and Ed Oxenbould. The film tells a story about Dylan, a young boy who lives in Western Australia who finds out that he has a talent for making paper planes and dreams of competing in the World Paper Plane Championships in Japan.[2]

It opened in Australian cinemas on 15 January 2015 on 253 screens by Roadshow Films. It grossed A$9.61 million at the Australian box office by the end of its run. The story is loosely inspired by an episode of Australian Story called "Fly With Me",[3] and was the center of a second episode, "The Meaning of Life". Paper Planes was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 24, 2015 by Roadshow Entertainment.


12 year old Dylan Webber lives in rural Western Australia. His mother died a few months ago and his father, Jack, is unable to come to terms with the loss, and has become depressed and withdrawn. Dylan brings food each day to a whistling kite named Clive which lives near his house, and he loves to watch it fly. A young student teacher visiting Dylan's school organizes a paper-plane contest, and Dylan, whose mother loved to make them, proves to have a natural talent, and he wins, making a plane that flies out of the school grounds. Dylan enters the state paper-plane championships, having to travel there by himself as Jack is too lethargic to get up early enough. Dylan wins a place in the National finals in Sydney. His father appears to takes little interest in his success, but Dylan receives more encouragement from his eccentric grandfather George a former wartime pilot.

Dylan and Jack drive to Sydney for the finals. Dylan becomes friends with Kimi Muroyama (Ena Imai), the visiting paper plane champion from Japan. His biggest rival is Jason Jones (Nicholas Bakopoulos-Cooke), the son of golf champion Patrick Jones (David Wenham). Dylan earns second-place in the finals, and is now eligible to compete in the world championship in Tokyo, but he has to pay his own air fare. Jack, who did not attend the event, but stayed in their motel room, still doesn't pay much attention to his son's exploits, and Dylan grows exasperated and angry with his dad.

Dylan has no money for the air fare, but Jack suddenly re-energizes. He organizes a garage sale, which is boosted by George and his nursing-home lady-friends, who bring home-made cakes to sell. A man offers to buy the piano which belonged to Dylan's mother, but Jack refuses, unable to part with it. The sale brings in enough cash for just one plane ticket, so Dylan has to travel by himself. Jack, becoming morose again, appears indifferent.

In Tokyo, Kimi teaches Dylan how to draw inspiration from nature when designing paper planes. Jason proves to be an ambitious and mean-spirited bully, even going as far as to push Dylan down a flight of stairs and sprain his wrist, but Dylan does his best to stand up to him and even to overcome his fear of needles. Dylan also becomes fixated on winning, but Jason's father Patrick, a kinder man than his son, reminds Dylan not to forget his family, and that Jack may simply need more time to recover. Dylan phones his dad, leaving a message on his answering machine, saying that he will stick by his father no matter what. Jack breaks down in tears as he listens.

At the finals, after Jason and Kimi both attain world record flights, Dylan is about to throw his conventional designed plane when he remembers Kimi's advice, and he thinks about Clive back home. At the last moment, he quickly re-designs his plane, modelling it after the whistling kite. He throws it and wins the championship and breaks the just-set world record, delighting the crowd and making even Jason join in the applause. The plane keeps flying back towards and then past Dylan, who turns around and sees the plane land in his father's hands. Dylan is overjoyed to see Jack, who has sold his wife's piano to buy a plane ticket to make it to the competition.



On 9 November 2013 it was announced that filming had begun in Perth, Western Australia and Tokyo with Robert Connolly directing.[4] Sam Worthington, David Wenham, Julian Dennison and Ed Oxenbould star in the film.[5]

Theatrical release[edit]

Paper Planes was theatrically released on January 15, 2015 in Australia by Roadshow Films.

Home media[edit]

Paper Planes was released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 24, 2015 by Roadshow Entertainment.

Critical response and box office[edit]

This film currently holds an 81% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. By the end of its run it had grossed A$9.61 million at the Australian box office.[6] Simon Weaving of Screenwize called the film "a wholesome, feel good tale of a primary school under-dog who dreams of getting to the world paper plane championships in Japan." Jim Schembri of 3AW wrote in his review "In one of the great career gear shifts in recent memory, Melbourne director Robert Connolly, who gave us such searing dramas as The Bank, Three Dollars and Balibo, delivers an adorable family film that is uplifting, warm, winning and, most of all, funny." Fiona Williams of says "there's a lot to like in Paper Planes' ideas about ingenuity and resilience, and that may bode well for getting bums off the beach and onto seats in the film's late summer school holiday release period."

While the film performed strongly at the box office domestically in Australia, it was less successful in its international debut (U.K./Ireland,) opening at #47 and earning £4,381 in its opening weekend (October 23–25, 2015.)[7] The film was released in Spain on January 1, 2016 (the film's only European theatrical release as of February 2016) and opened at #29 with a gross of US$7,577 from 21 screens, for a per-theater average of $361.[8]


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
Best Film Liz Kearney Nominated
Maggie Miles Nominated
Robert Connolly Nominated
Best Original Screenplay Won
Steve Worland Won
Best Supporting Actress Deborah Mailman Nominated
Best Original Music Score Nigel Westlake Nominated
Best Sound James Ashton Nominated
Emma Bortignon Nominated
Chris Goodes Nominated
Trevor Hope Nominated
People's Choice Award for Favourite Australian Film Liz Kearney Nominated
Maggie Miles Nominated
Robert Connolly Nominated
Australian Directors Guild Award Best Direction in a Feature Film Nominated
AWGIE Award Best Writing in a Feature Film - Original Nominated
Steve Worland Nominated
ASE Award Best Editing in a Feature Film Nick Meyers Nominated
Berlin International Film Festival Generation Kplus - Crystal Bear for Best Film Robert Connolly Nominated
Jerusalem Film Festival Young Critics Club Award for Best Children's Film Won
Seattle International Film Festival Youth Jury Award Nominated


  • Paper Planes
  • Ready to Launch
  • Flight Research
  • My Journey Starts Here
  • Dog Fight
  • A Bird That Cannot Fly
  • Pavane
  • Take Your Positions
  • Do Emus Dream of Flying?
  • The Final Challenge
  • Is There a Movie on This Flight?
  • Tokyo by Night
  • The Competition
  • For As Long As It Takes
  • Learn to Live


Steve Worland, who co-wrote Paper Planes, novelised the screenplay into a best selling book for young readers. It was published on 2 January 2015 through Puffin Books. It includes directions on how to fold a paper plane, photographs from the film and notes about the production.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Paper Planes". Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  2. ^ "Paper Planes - Penguin Books Australia". Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  3. ^ "Australian Story :: Paper Planes". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d McNary, Dave (9 November 2013). "Sam Worthington, David Wenham Flying in ‘Paper Planes’". Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  5. ^ Franklin, Garth (12 November 2013). "Worthington, Lapaglia Throw "Paper Planes"". Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "Paper Planes". 22 January 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  7. ^ "Weekend box office figures". Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  8. ^ "Spain Box Office, January 1–3, 2016". Retrieved 16 October 2016. 

External links[edit]