Tomorrow, When the War Began (film)

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Tomorrow, When the War Began
Tomorrow, When the War Began theatrical poster.jpg
Australian theatrical release poster
Directed byStuart Beattie
Produced byAndrew Mason
Michael Boughen
Screenplay byStuart Beattie
Based onTomorrow, When the War Began
by John Marsden
StarringCaitlin Stasey
Rachel Hurd-Wood
Lincoln Lewis
Deniz Akdeniz
Phoebe Tonkin
Chris Pang
Ashleigh Cummings
Andy Ryan
Colin Friels
Music byJohnny Klimek
Reinhold Heil
CinematographyBen Nott
Edited byMarcus D'Arcy
Ambience Entertainment
Omnilab Media[1]
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Freestyle Releasing[2]
Release date
  • 2 September 2010 (2010-09-02)
Running time
104 minutes[3]
BudgetA$27 million[4]
Box officeUS$16.5 million[5]

Tomorrow, When the War Began is a 2010 Australian action-adventure war drama film written and directed by Stuart Beattie and based on the novel of the same name (the first in a series of seven) by John Marsden. The film was produced by Andrew Mason and Michael Boughen. The story follows Ellie Linton, one of seven teenagers waging a guerrilla war against an invading foreign power in their fictional hometown of Wirrawee. The film stars Caitlin Stasey as Ellie Linton and features an ensemble cast including Rachel Hurd-Wood, Lincoln Lewis and Phoebe Tonkin. Production began in September 2009.[6][7][8]

Principal photography began on 28 September 2009, and concluded on 6 November 2009; filming took place in the Hunter Region and the Blue Mountains, in New South Wales. The teaser trailer for the film was released on 31 March 2010. The film was released in Australia and New Zealand on 2 September 2010.[9] It was later released on 15 April 2011 in the United Kingdom, and on 24 February 2012 in the United States.[10][11]


The film begins with a video log by Ellie Linton (Caitlin Stasey). She asks the camera how she can tell their story. She suggests to herself "from the beginning."

Country high school student Ellie sets off on a camping trip to "Hell's Gate", with close childhood friend Corrie McKenzie (Rachel Hurd-Wood), together with Corrie's boyfriend Kevin Holmes (Lincoln Lewis), Ellie's next-door neighbour Homer Yannos (Deniz Akdeniz), high school crush Lee Takkam (Chris Pang) and friends Robyn Mathers (Ashleigh Cummings) and Fiona Maxwell (Phoebe Tonkin). After driving Ellie's parents' Land Rover into the mountains, they hike down into a remote valley known as "Hell".

During their second night camping, Ellie wakes to a sky full of military aircraft. Upon arriving back in town, the group finds their homes abandoned, without power, internet and telephone lines down. From the hill overlooking Robyn's house, the group sees that the only lights on in town are at the hospital and showground. Upon reaching the showground, they find that the citizens of the town are being detained by a foreign military group. Ellie witnesses a man being executed with a shot to the head, and in her horror retreats too quickly, being spotted by a searchlight. They flee but are pursued by soldiers into the backyard of a house. Ellie, using Kevin's singlet, lighter and the fuel tank of a ride-on lawn mower, creates an explosion that eliminates the squad.

On return to Corrie's house, they find that Lee and Robyn are missing. Ellie and Corrie witness an RAAF jet fighter being shot down by enemy aircraft. Whilst the group gathers inside to plan for their return to Hell, an enemy helicopter performs a close examination of the house. Homer shoots out searchlight of the helicopter, which retreats after dropping flares. The group barely escape with their lives as a jet destroys the home.

That night, Ellie and Homer sneak back into town and find Robyn in her house. Lee has been wounded, and is being treated by Dr Clements (Colin Friels), the local dentist, who informs them that the invading forces are bringing in their vehicles and equipment from ships moored in Cobbler's Bay over the Wirrawee Bridge. After a brief skirmish with a pair of armed buggies, Robyn, Homer, Lee and Ellie meet back up at Corrie's home. They decide to return to Hell.

On the way, they stop at a house and are greeted by school mate Chris, who is incredibly stoned and has no idea that a war is going on. Chris joins the group. Ellie and Lee have a deep conversation about their lives, including the restaurant Lee worked at being destroyed, and briefly kiss. Ellie then runs downstairs to check on Chris, who is meant to be guarding them with his gun, and finds him asleep while a military car narrowly passes by the house. She angrily wakes Chris up, rebuking him for almost getting them killed, and demands that he shoot her, but he cannot bring himself to do it. Ellie prepares to shoot him, but when her friends witness this, she puts the gun down.

They soon return to Hell, with plans to use it as a secluded hideout where the enemy forces will not find them. While there, Lee tries to talk to Ellie about their kiss and their feelings towards each other, but she angrily replies that she is confused and storms off to a cliff to contemplate her fate. The group hears a radio transmission revealing that Australia has been invaded by "The Coalition Nations" from nearby Asia, who believe that they have a right to the country's vast natural resources and wealth in order to sustain their growing populations. The transmission also reveals one of the three main ports being used to deposit soldiers into the country is nearby Cobbler's Bay, the only exit from which is the Heron Bridge, which the group then makes plans to destroy.

The group sneaks back to Wirrawee, and devise a plan to blow up Heron Bridge. Ellie and Fi steal a petrol tanker from the council depot. They park it near the bridge and wait for the rest of the team to take their positions. After being discovered by guards, they rush to drive the tanker forward under the bridge. The plan necessarily brought forward, Homer and Lee scare a herd of cattle onto the bridge, forcing the sentries to flee their posts, allowing Ellie to park the tanker under the bridge unhindered. Working together, they manage to explode the tanker, which utterly destroys the bridge. Corrie however is shot as the group escapes.

Despite certain capture, Kevin decides to drive Corrie, who is seriously wounded, to the hospital and remain by her side. After saying their goodbyes, Kevin and Corrie depart to an unknown future while Ellie breaks down and cries into Lee's arms. Ellie then finishes her video log, revealing that the group have returned to Hell for their ongoing guerrilla war, the necessity to fight, and that they have yet to be found. She states that they will keep on fighting until the war and invasion are over.


  • Caitlin Stasey as Ellie Linton, the film's protagonist and Lee's romantic interest.[12]
  • Rachel Hurd-Wood as Corrie McKenzie, Ellie's best friend and Kevin's girlfriend.[13]
  • Lincoln Lewis as Kevin Holmes, Corrie's boyfriend.[14]
  • Deniz Akdeniz as Homer Yannos, Ellie's next-door neighbour and Fiona's romantic interest.[15]
  • Phoebe Tonkin as Fiona "Fifi" Maxwell, Homer's romantic interest.[16]
  • Chris Pang as Lee Takkam,1 Ellie's romantic interest.[15]
  • Ashleigh Cummings as Robyn Mathers
  • Andy Ryan as Chris Lang
  • Colin Friels as Dr. Clement, the Wirrawee dentist
  • Don Halbert as Mr. Linton
  • Olivia Pigeot as Mrs. Linton
  • Stephen Bourke as Police Officer
  • Kelly Butler as Mrs. Maxwell
  • Julia Yon as Mrs. Takkam
  • Dane Carson as Mr. Mathers
  • Matthew Dale as Mr. Coles
  • Gary Quay as Senior Soldier
  • Michael Camilleri as Tanker Driver



In June 2009, Screen Australia announced that it would fund the development of the feature film to be produced based on the novel, to be written and directed by screenwriter Stuart Beattie. The film was released on 2 September 2010. Critical response to the film was mixed and it failed to find an overseas audience.

Filming and locations[edit]

Filming began in the Hunter Region of New South Wales, Australia on 28 September 2009 with early shooting in Dungog.[17] Raymond Terrace was chosen as a major location for producing the film as it is "a great country town".[18] Historic King Street, the former main street of the town, was transformed from a normally quiet location into Main Street, Wirrawee. The street began its transformation in September 2009, with set areas including the "Wirrawee Cinema" and the Lee family's Thai restaurant. Filming began in King Street on 21 October 2009 and continued until 27 October 2009. Filming in other locations in the town ended on 6 November 2009.[19][20] Other filming locations included Maitland, the Blue Mountains and the Luskintyre bridge. The Fox Studios site in Sydney was also used.[21] The explosions of the house and bridge were filmed, scaled-down, at Terrey Hills in northern Sydney.

Wirrawee Cinema
Turner Bros Holden
Wirrawee Bakery
Shearers Hotel
Central Motel & Cafe
Bendigo Bank
Wirrawee main street sets in King Street, Raymond Terrace


Critical reception[edit]

Tomorrow, When the War Began received mixed reviews. Review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 64% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 54 reviews, with an average score of 5.6/10.[22] The site's consensus is that "While the script isn't amazing and the story's race issues linger, this adaptation of John Marsden's book is an exciting, action-heavy adventure that should please fans of the series."[22] Marc Fennell of Triple J wrote that Tomorrow, When the War Began has "patchy acting, fantastic action and some great slivers of humour in a movie that only gives off the faintest whiff of a xenophobic nation terrified of being invaded."[23] Margaret Pomeranz of At the Movies wrote that "Stuart Beattie handles the action well; I think he's less adept at handling the development of character, but I'm sure the numerous fans of the book will be satisfied with the movie."[24] A review by the Australian Special Broadcasting Service was less generous, pointing out parallels to the 1984 film Red Dawn, starring Charlie Sheen and Patrick Swayze. It called the plot weak and the ending a letdown.[25]

Box Office[edit]

Despite not coming close to its A$27 million budget, the film was popular at the Australian and New Zealand box office, though internationally it was far less successful. In Australia, the film debuted at No. 1 and made $3.86 million during its first weekend and grossed NZ$358,653 in its No. 1 debut in New Zealand.[26] Within two weeks, the film grossed over $7.7 million in Australia to become the highest-grossing domestic film of 2010.[27] Paramount acquired distribution rights for the UK, Russia, South Africa, Portugal and Scandinavia and said upon its acquisition that they "look forward to bringing this story to international audiences."[28] Despite earning over $13.5 million at the Australian box office, the film "failed to find an international audience"[29] and earned a total of under $3 million in the rest of the world combined. This included $341,995 in the U.K. and $1,026,705 in New Zealand.[30]


Award Category Name Outcome
2010 Inside Film Awards[31][32] Best Feature Film Won
Best Script Stuart Beattie Won
Best Music Won
Best Actress Caitlin Stasey Won
2010 Australian Screen Sound Guild Awards[33] Soundtrack of the Year Won
Best Film Sound Recording David Lee, Gerry Nucifora, Emma Barham Won
AACTA Awards[34] Best Adapted Screenplay Stuart Beattie Won
Best Sound Andrew Plain, David Lee, Gethin Creagh, Robert Sullivan Won
Best Film Andrew Mason, Michael Boughen Nominated
Young Actor Ashleigh Cummings Nominated
Readers' Choice Award Andrew Mason, Michael Boughen Nominated
Members' Choice Award Andrew Mason, Michael Boughen Nominated
Best Editing Marcus D'Arcy Nominated
Best Production Design Robert Webb, Michelle McGahey, Damien Drew, Bev Dunn Nominated
Best Visual Effects Chris Godfrey, Sigi Eimutis, Dave Morely, Tony Cole Nominated
19th Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards[35] Best Film Liz Watts Nominated
Best Director Stuart Beattie Nominated
Best Screenplay Stuart Beattie Nominated
Best Cinematography Ben Nott Nominated
Best Editor Marcus D'Arcy Nominated


Home media[edit]

The DVD and Blu-ray editions of the film were released on 30 December 2010. Both editions were released in widescreen and have additional special features.[36][37] Some Australian stores released the DVD of the film earlier than expected on 21 December 2010, nine days before the official release date. This was later confirmed by the film's official Facebook page.[citation needed] Special features include John Marsden's view and an alternate ending.[citation needed] Tomorrow, When the War Began now holds the record for the biggest first week sales for an Australian independently-produced and financed film after selling almost 105,000 DVD copies since its release on 30 December. The previous record was held by George Miller's animated film Happy Feet, which sold about 95,000 copies in its first week in 2007.[38]


Cancelled sequel[edit]

In September 2010, executive producer Christopher Mapp stated that there may be two sequels, based on the novels The Dead of the Night and The Third Day, The Frost.[39][40] He also stated that there may be a television series, adapting the remainder of the book series.[40] In December 2010, The Age reported that The Dead of the Night had been green-lit for production, which would commence once the script by Stuart Beattie[41] was completed,[42] with release scheduled for 2012.[43] Filming was due to commence in September 2011.[44] On 20 November 2011, Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported that the sequel had apparently been cancelled. Lincoln Lewis stated "At this stage it doesn't look like it's going to go ahead."[45] In December 2011, the official Tomorrow, When the War Began Facebook page posted that Kieran Darcy-Smith is working on a script for a sequel.[46] In August 2012, it was announced by producers that they hoped for filming to start in early 2013.[47]

Television adaptation[edit]

After several years of no word on the sequel, in 2015 it was announced that a television adaptation of the Tomorrow series was currently in the works. The cast from the film adaption did not reprise their roles.[48] The series consists of six episodes and airs on ABC3.[49][50] Filming took place from 14 September to 13 November 2015 in Melbourne, and premiered on 23 April 2016.[51][52]


1.^ In the original books, Lee's surname was never mentioned.


  1. ^ "TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN". Retrieved 24 April 2010.
  2. ^ Griswold, Sarah (24 February 2012). "Tomorrow When The War Began". Freestyle Releasing.
  3. ^ "Tomorrow, When the War Began". The Courier-Mail. Archived from the original on 4 March 2012. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Tomorrow, When The War Began: biggest Aussie movie of 2010". 16 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Tomorrow, When the War Began". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
  6. ^ "John Marsden book to be made into film". 22 July 2009. Archived from the original on 12 September 2010. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  7. ^ "Stuart Beattie looks to 'Tomorrow'". The Hollywood Reporter. 15 June 2009. Archived from the original on 19 June 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
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  10. ^ "In Pictures: 'Tomorrow When The War Began'". Digital Spy. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 26 January 2011.
  11. ^ "Official TWTWB Facebook Page". 31 March 2010. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
  12. ^ Darren Rowe (7 September 2009). "'Neighbours' star scores film lead". Digital Spy. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  13. ^ "Rachel Hurd-Wood joins Tomorrow". 21 September 2009. Archived from the original on 3 October 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  14. ^ "Lincoln Lewis quits Home and Away to focus on movies". The Daily Telegraph. 17 September 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  15. ^ a b "Bay News". Yahoo7. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  16. ^ "Hell Has Two New Angels". 14 September 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  17. ^ Julieanne Strachan (28 October 2009). "Hunter the perfect spot to film John Marsden favourite". The Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  18. ^ Hayley Odgers (9 September 2009). "Terrace on centre stage". Port Stephens Examiner. Retrieved 16 October 2009.
  19. ^ "Public Announcement". Port Stephens Examiner. 22 October 2009. Archived from the original on 18 October 2009. Retrieved 28 October 2009.
  20. ^ "Public Announcement". Port Stephens Examiner. 29 October 2009. p. 81.
  21. ^ "What are the major set locations?". Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  22. ^ a b "Tomorrow, When the War Began (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved 26 February 2012.
  23. ^ "Marc Fennell: review: tomorrow when the war began". Archived from the original on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 28 December 2014.
  24. ^ "At the Movies: Tomorrow When The War Began". Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  25. ^ A derivative kids' own adventure SBS movie review, author: Simon Foster, published: 30 August 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2011
  26. ^ "Tomorrow takes top spot at box office with $3.8m opening weekend". Inside Film. 6 September 2010. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  27. ^ Lynch, Sean (17 September 2010). "Tomorrow When The War Began Biggest Film Of 2010". Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  28. ^ "Tomorrow When The War Began Goes International". Archived from the original on 22 July 2012.
  29. ^ "UPDATED: Killer Elite producer Michael Boughen sentenced on tax charges". Archived from the original on 26 March 2012.
  30. ^ "International Box Office Results by Country".
  31. ^ "Caitlin Stasey causes upset at IF Awards". Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  32. ^ "Tomorrow and Animal Kingdom win at the Kodak Inside Film Awards – Inside Film: Film and Television Industry News and Issues for Australian Content Creators". 15 November 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  33. ^ REEL TIME: Michael Bodey (3 November 2010). "Geoffrey Rush earns nod for British period drama The King's Speech". The Australian. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  34. ^ "The Australian Film Institute | AFI Award Winners and Nominees Ceremony". Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  35. ^ "Film Critics Circle of Australia 2011 Awards Results". AtTheCinema. Archived from the original on 22 July 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  36. ^ "Tomorrow When the War Began @ EzyDVD". Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  37. ^ "Tomorrow When the War Began (Blu-ray) @ EzyDVD". Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  38. ^ Swift, Brendan (12 January 2011). "Tomorrow when the war began breaks DVD sales record". inside film. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  39. ^ "Stuart Beattie back for two 'Tomorrow' pics". The Hollywood Reporter. 12 September 2010. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  40. ^ a b "Exclusive: Tomorrow… plans for trilogy and TV series". Encore Magazine. 10 August 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2010.
  41. ^ "Tomorrow sequel in the works". 13 December 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  42. ^ "Tomorrow sequel in the works". The Age. Melbourne. AAP. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  43. ^ Confidential (14 November 2010). "Sequel to Tomorrow, When The War Began in the works". Courier Mail. Retrieved 19 December 2010.
  44. ^ "High hopes for Tomorrow sequel in Australia". Herald Sun. The Herald and Weekly Times. 28 February 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2011.
  45. ^ Tomorrow, the war was cancelled – no sequel to Aussie film Tomorrow, When The War Began The Daily Telegraph, 19 November 2011
  46. ^ "December 10, 2011 at 7:36am". Official Tomorrow When The War Began Movie. 10 December 2011. Retrieved 29 February 2012.
  47. ^ "Pledge on film sequel". The Daily Telegraph. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  48. ^ Chloe Lal (1 May 2015). "Tomorrow when the world began TV series in the works!". Woman's Day.
  49. ^ Nadia (1 May 2015). "Tomorrow, When The War Began TV Series Casting Call Info". The Tomorrow Series. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  50. ^ Nadia (13 May 2015). "Tomorrow, When The War Began TV Series Adaptation Will Air On ABC3". The Tomorrow Series. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  51. ^ "That's a wrap for Tomorrow, When The War Began - The Series!". 13 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  52. ^ "Tomorrow, When The War Began - The Series New Trailer & Air Date!". 14 March 2016. Retrieved 14 March 2016.

External links[edit]