ABC indigenous telemovie Mabo posted a lacklustre audience of 544,000 viewers on Sunday night.
The multi-million dollar tale about about Eddie and Bonita Mabo (played by Jimi Bani and Deborah Mailman), and the fight for indigenous land rights, was directed by Rachel Perkins (Bran Nue Dae, First Australians) and written by Sue Smith (Bastard Boys, Brides of Christ).
Other recent indigenous films screened on the ABC have fared better including Perkins's Bran Nue Dae, which averaged 720,000 viewers in January last year, according to The Australian, while Warwick Thornton's Samson and Delilah was seen by about 1 million viewers when it first aired in 2010. However, Samson and Delilah was strongly supported by the ABC at an early stage of production, which allowed the broadcaster to skip the usual DVD release window, elevating its audience.
ABC managing director Mark Scott took to Twitter, saying: "I think #Mabo will grow a large, devoted audience over time – through iview, DVD and in schools. Important Australian storytelling."
Mabo was supported by the ABC, Screen NSW and Screen Queensland.
Check out the next issue of IF Magazine for a cover story on Mabo.