Australian films grossed just 3.9 per cent of the total takings at the 2011 box office, new statistics reveal.

The 3.9 per cent – $42.9 million – from 44 local titles is down on the previous year's figures of $50.6 million (4.5 per cent, 41 titles). 

Feel-good family film Red Dog was largely responsible for the result ($21.3 million) in a year that saw audiences hand over $1.09 billion at cinema complexes.

Distributor Roadshow opened Red Dog on 245 screens in early-August before word-of-mouth kicked in. It posted increasing box office receipts and eventually rose to a maximum of 271 screens five weeks later.

Other popular local films included Oranges and Sunshine and Sanctum (which, with a worldwide gross of more than $US100 million, is now in the top 10 Australian films in overseas territories list).

Screen Australia’s acting chief executive, Fiona Cameron, praised the local achievements – particularly Bob Connolly/Sophie Raymond's feature documentary Mrs. Carey’s Concert, which raked in more than $1 million to become the fourth highest-grossing local film of all time.

“While our overall domestic share of the box office is down, 2011 was certainly the year of critical success. Australian films featured in all six premiere international film festivals with the standout achievement of Sleeping Beauty screening in Competition at the Cannes Film Festival,” Cameron said in a statement.

“Furthermore, it is also important to remember that cinema screens are just one of the ways that Australians enjoy watching their films.”

Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia chairman, Michael Selwyn, said despite tough economic times, it was an impressive year at the box office.

“These results show that even though Australians are faced with an ever-increasing choice of leisure activities, experiencing films on the big screen remains one of the most popular entertainment choices for the Australian public,” he said in a statement.

“The ongoing commitment from exhibition to expand and improve their cinemas certainly played an important part in this. It was also encouraging to see a broad range of films achieving box office success including an Australian film in the Top Ten for the year.”

As no surprise, big franchises/sequels were the local audiences' main choices.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 cast a spell over cinemagoers in July and grossed the most at the local box office in 2011. The Warner Bros. film posted the biggest box office opening day and week in history back in July and eventually earnt a phenomenal $52.6 million.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon came in second and took in $37.6 million for distributor Paramount, while The Hangover Part II made $32.7 in third position.

Other films in the top 10 included The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 ($28.1 million), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($27.7 million), Bridesmaids ($27.1 million), The King’s Speech ($26.8 million), Fast and Furious 5 ($25.3 million) and Tangled ($22.2 million).

According to Screen Australia data, US films grossed $891.3 million, UK films $124.9 million, Indian $6 million, French $9 million and the rest of the world took $15.8 million.

Local films to be released this year include Any Questions For Ben?, Bait, Drift, A Few Best Men, Dead Europe, Goddess, Hail, The Kath and Kim Filum, The King is Dead!, Killer Elite, Lore, Mental, My America, Not Suitable For Children, The Sapphires, Satellite Boy, Storm Surfers 3D, Venice and Wish You Were Here.

In other news, Screen Australia has released a new online “widget” which will provide the industry with access to "regular, relevant and in-depth information” on the performance of Australian content on screens. Highlights include a variety of weekly and monthly updates on the performance of films at the box office, the progressive share of Australian films and programs on Australian TV across both free-to-air and subscription TV. It can be found at this address.

Top 10 Films of 2011

Source: MPDAA

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1 Comment

  1. Does this come at any surprise? People no longer want to see an Australian film, no matter how good it may be, precisely because its Australian. That’s where we’re at.

    And it will continue on this way until the archaic funding system is overhauled. We need fresh young blood in there.. Stop with the ‘culturally significant wank’ and make films people want to see… I love arthouse films more than mainstream but you’ve got to have a thriving industry first…

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