Barring a miracle or at least several hits, the Australian films released in cinemas this year have no hope of matching 2013’s combined gross of $38.5 million.
Through last Sunday, 43 local features and documentaries had racked up $18.5 million nationwide. That includes mostly small amounts earned by 20 titles that opened in 2013 or earlier.
As the SAFC’s Richard Harris has pointed out, the results of each film should be evaluated on the basis of its release strategy rather than regarding every film that earns less than $1 million as a disaster and proof that Australian audiences have turned away from Aussie cinema.
However distributors and producers were counting on far stronger ticket sales for the Spierig brothers’ Predestination, Matt Saville’s Felony, David Michôd’s The Rover and Zak Hilditch’s These Final Hours.
Only The Railway Man (which opened on Boxing Day and has a lifetime cume of $7.3 million), Wolf Creek 2 and Tracks have surpassed $1 million this year. Rolf de Heer Charlie’s Country is the fourth-highest grosser but is tracking below Tracker, his first collaboration with David Gulpilil, which made $818,000 in 2002. Last year’s total was inflated by The Great Gatsby, which raked in $27.4 million.
Writer-director John V Soto, producer Deidre Kitcher and distributor SC Movies set a precedent by launching The Reckoning at five cinemas in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane on September 4 before releasing the title 13 days later on VOD platforms and on DVD. If that works, expect more producers to shorten the window between theatrical and home entertainment.
The industry’s hopes of reaching a respectable B.O. total for 2014 now rest on Josh Lawson’s The Little Death, which opens this week, followed by Julius Avery’s Son of a Gun (October 16), William Kelly's War (October 30), Alexs Stadermann’s animated Maya The Bee Movie (November 1), Stephen Lance’s My Mistress and Mack Lindon's Rise (both November 6) and Paul Fenech's Fat Pizza vs Housos (November 27).
Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner is almost certain to end the year on a high note as it launches on December 26.
Among the films on the slate for 2015 are Rob Connolly’s Paper Planes (January), Kriv Stenders’ Kill Me Three Times, Tony Ayres’ Cut Snake, Michael Petroni’s Backtrack and Wayne Hope's Now Add Honey.
To see the updated Australian box office scorecard, click here