Penguin Bloom

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Penguin Bloom
Australian theatrical release poster
Directed byGlendyn Ivin
Written by
  • Shaun Grant
  • Harry Cripps
Based on
Penguin Bloom
Produced by
CinematographySam Chiplin
Edited byMaria Papoutsis
Music byMarcelo Zarvos
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 12 September 2020 (2020-09-12) (TIFF)
  • 21 January 2021 (2021-01-21) (Australia)
  • 27 January 2021 (2021-01-27) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes[1]
  • Australia
  • United States
Box office$6.3 million[2][3]

Penguin Bloom is a 2020 Australian drama film directed by Glendyn Ivin, from a screenplay by Shaun Grant and Harry Cripps, and is based on the book of the same name by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive. It stars Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln and Jacki Weaver. The book and film are based on a true story of Sam and Cameron Bloom's family and their interactions with an Australian magpie named 'Penguin'.[4]

It was theatrically released in Australia by Roadshow Films on 21 January 2021 and digitally in the United States by Netflix on 27 January.


During a family vacation in Thailand, Sam Bloom (Naomi Watts) accidentally falls off a high balcony and breaks her T6 thoracic vertebrae resulting in partial paralysis. Back home in Australia, Sam, an avid surfer, struggles to adjust to life in a wheelchair, but is supported by her husband Cameron (Andrew Lincoln), their three sons Noah, Rueben, and Oli, and Sam's overbearing mother Jan (Jacki Weaver).

One afternoon, the three boys find and bring home an injured magpie chick who they name Penguin. Sam is initially despondent to care for Penguin but understands it is important to Noah, and as time goes on, she bonds with her. Noah feels guilty for being the one who asked his mum to go up to the balcony in Thailand and has withdrawn from her since the accident. Sam and Cameron's relationship also deteriorates as she struggles to find joy in daily life and wishes to forget who she was before the fall since she can no longer live in the same way. She demands he never ask her how she is.

After several weeks, Penguin fully recovers and learns to fly, inspiring Sam to want to do something for herself; she starts kayaking lessons. For Sam's birthday, the Blooms go for dinner at Jan's house, joined by Sam's sister Kylie (Leeanna Walsman) and Sam's kayaking instructor Gaye (Rachel House). While Jan and Cameron argue about Sam's new life and their responsibilities to her, Penguin is attacked by two larger birds and then flies away.

Sam eventually confronts Noah about his guilt and tells him he is not to blame for what happened to her. She apologises for being distant and reveals she has found her strength, and the whole family reconcile. Sam asks Cameron to ask her how she is, and when he does, she replies, "I'm better."

Penguin returns home a few days later, and Sam thanks her for helping her recover.



The rights to the book were acquired in December 2016 by Bruna Papandrea. Naomi Watts was set to star and to co-produce with Mark Audet, Emma Cooper, and Made Up Stories.[5][6] In June 2017, Shaun Grant was hired to write the screenplay.[7] By February 2019, Glendyn Ivin was set to direct, and in July Andrew Lincoln, Jacki Weaver and Rachel House were added to the cast.[8][9][10]

Filming began in Australia in early August 2019.[11][6][12]


Penguin Bloom had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 12 September 2020.[13]

The film was released theatrically in Australia on 21 January 2021 by Roadshow Films,[14] and hit number one at the Australian box office for its opening weekend.[15]

Netflix released the film in North America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, France and select Asian countries on 27 January 2021.[16]


Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 67% approval rating based on 84 reviews, with an average rating of 6.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads: "Penguin Bloom's fact-based story could have been adapted with greater nuance, but strong work from Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln adds some much-needed heart."[17] According to Metacritic, which sampled 17 critics and calculated a weighted average score of 54 out of 100, the film received "mixed or average reviews".[18]

The script for Penguin Bloom by Shaun Grant and Harry Cripps was shortlisted for the Betty Roland Prize for Scriptwriting at the 2021 New South Wales Premier's Literary Awards.[19]


Award Ceremony
Category Subject Result Ref
AACTA Awards December 8, 2021 Best Film Emma Cooper Nominated [20]
Steve Hutensky Nominated
Jodi Matterson Nominated
Bruna Papandrea Nominated
Naomi Watts Nominated
Best Direction Glendyn Ivin Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Harry Cripps Nominated
Shaun Grant Nominated
Best Actress Naomi Watts Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Jacki Weaver Nominated
Best Cinematography Sam Chiplin Nominated
Best Original Music Score Marcelo Zarvos Nominated
Best Production Design Annie Beauchamp Nominated


  1. ^ Ivin, Glendyn. "Penguin Bloom". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 7 September 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Penguin Bloom". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 3 February 2021.
  3. ^ "Penguin Bloom". The Numbers. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  4. ^ "The True Story Behind the New Netflix Film Penguin Bloom". 27 January 2021. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  5. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (8 December 2016). "'Penguin Bloom' Binds Naomi Watts, Reese Witherspoon & Bruna Papandrea". Deadline. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  6. ^ a b Galuppo, Mia (25 July 2019). "Andrew Lincoln Joins Naomi Watts in 'Penguin Bloom'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2020.
  7. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (28 June 2017). "Shaun Grant To Adapt 'Penguin Bloom'; Naomi Watts To Star". Deadline. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  8. ^ "'Penguin Bloom' adaptation receives Screen Australia funding". Books and Publishing. 28 February 2019. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (25 July 2019). "'Walking Dead's Andrew Lincoln Joins Naomi Watts In 'Penguin Bloom'". Deadline. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  10. ^ Hipes, Patrick (31 July 2019). "Jacki Weaver Joins Cast Of 'Penguin Bloom' Movie". Deadline. Archived from the original on 31 July 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Screen Aust spending $4m on new film, TV series & online projects". Mediaweek. 27 February 2019. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  12. ^ Watts, Naomi. "Day #1 of the long awaited #PenguinBloom movie. We are so proud to tell this powerful story Meet the fabulous cast and my co-star Gerry (who just might steal the movie) playing @penguinthemagpie Here we go! ❤️🇦🇺". Instagram. Archived from the original on 26 December 2021. Retrieved 27 January 2021.
  13. ^ Wiseman, Andreas (30 July 2020). "Toronto Sets 2020 Lineup: Werner Herzog, Regina King, Mira Nair, Francois Ozon, Naomi Kawase Titles Join Hybrid Edition". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 30 July 2020. Retrieved 30 July 2020.
  14. ^ Groves, Dan (26 October 2020). "'The Dry' and 'Penguin Bloom' raise hopes of a strong start to 2021 for Oz cinema". IF Magazine. Archived from the original on 1 November 2020. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  15. ^ "PENGUIN BLOOM SOARS TO NUMBER ONE". FilmInk. Archived from the original on 26 January 2021. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  16. ^ Donnelly, Matt (30 November 2020). "Naomi Watts' 'Penguin Bloom' Sells to Netflix in Key Territories (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Archived from the original on 30 November 2020. Retrieved 30 November 2020.
  17. ^ "Penguin Bloom (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on 9 January 2021. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  18. ^ "Penguin Bloom Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 26 January 2021. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  19. ^ "NSW Premier's Literary Awards 2021 shortlists announced". Books+Publishing. 24 March 2021. Retrieved 25 March 2021.
  20. ^ "Winners & Nominees".

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