As an Australian film producer, I am constantly faced with the reality that Aussie audiences prefer spending their hard-earned cash on Hollywood pictures.
2015 saw Australian Film pass a significant box office milestone, surpassing the all-time box office record of $63.4 million set all the way back in 2001. The figure currently stands at about $64 million and is expected to break $70 million by the end of the year. That's $70 million for all films combined this year!
Here's the current Top 10 Australian films of 2015 so far:
1) Mad Max Fury Road: $21.65 million
2) The Water Diviner: $10.18 million
3) Paper Planes: $9.65 million
4) Oddball: $8.12 million
5) Last Cab to Darwin: $7.15 million
6) Blinky Bill The Movie: $2.32 million
7) That Sugar Film: $1.71 million
8) Holding the Man: $1.14 million
9) Ruben Guthrie: $0.42 million
10) Manny Lewis: $0.41 million
To put this list in perspective, Jurassic World and Fast and Furious 7 were both released this year and together brought a combined $2 billion in world wide box office gross just for one studio. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 grossed just over $70 million at the US domestic box office, a figure likely to be matched by Australians on their spend on Australian films this year. This alone should so show how truly small the the film production industry is over here.
However, the good news is that with a record breaking year, it means our local films are once again connecting with local audiences after a number of questionable years.
Screen Australia CEO, Graeme Mason said:
“I think this year’s films say something very interesting about what Australian life is like at the moment – what we care about and what our values are. We’ve seen films about nostalgia and heroism, good-humoured family larks, personal struggles and social conscience. In a year that’s seen a lot of turmoil, Australians have looked for stories that reflect their darker side as well as their care for social issues, and their need to laugh. Film, like all the arts, helps us make sense of the world around us, and reflects us back to ourselves."
I would attribute the world wide success of George Miller's Mad Max Fury Road to a growing audience confidence in home grown film. I also think Robert Connelly's Paper Planes being a family friendly, accomplished, heart-warming film, with a familiar underdog approach that most Australian's subscribe to, helped build further audience confidence. For Aussie filmmakers, audience confidence in the content we produce is what ensures our industry to live on.
Though I still cannot help feeling a little disheartened that only as little as 6.8% of all money spent by Australian film attendees was toward our own content.
As Mason highlighted,
We know first-hand just how resilient, patient and talented the Australian film industry is, and we’re proud to play a role in helping it thrive.
You can read more about the recent box office news from Screen Australia via their full media release here.
Which 2015 Australian films have you seen? Tell us in the comments!
Daniel Sanguineti is a Australian Film Producer and Writer, who tutors film and media at the University of Canberra and the Canberra Institute of Technology. He is on twitter @DanSanguineti.