Australian cinema is powerful and it does not get the recognition that it deserves.But in Australia the film industry is just not profitable as it gets hardly any promotion. Instead print media outlets and online social media sites tend focus on what is coming from Hollywood.
In the 1970s and 1980s there were plenty of Australian films that got people going to the cinema. For Example Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Mad Max (1979) and Crocodile Dundee (1986). These films were considered as box office smashes and these films are just a small representation of how profitable the film industry was back then. A lot of these films were gaining a worldwide audience as people started to take notice. CEO of the Australian and NSW film Tanya Chambers stated:
“We have become disconnected from the audience, the notion of a must see local film is something that we have lost in Australia” (Bosanquet 2007, p. 98).
This is quite a concern as the Australian film industry has now become close to being unprofitable. The concept of what is a box office success in Australia has changed as well. Films that make 500 000 to 800 000 are considered to be a success.
There have been times where Australia films have generated more publicity overseas but still couldn’t do enough at home. Animal Kingdom (2010) won the World Cinematic Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance film festival. It grossed 6 million worldwide but only made 1 million in Australia. Recently The Babadook was critically a success in the United States of America. It played at a number of film festivals in America including South by Southwest and Sundance.
If we look over the past ten years of Australian films that have been highly successful at the box office we can understand that distribution and marketing are essential for an Australian film to succeed. Wolf Creek (2005) was made on 1 million; it grossed 30 million worldwide and grossed 4 million in Australia. The film generated publicity for a whole year before it got a theatrical release in its home country. It received appraisal at the Sundance and Cannes film festivals. In 2011 Red Dog became the 11th highest grossing Australian film. It got a release at the Berlin film festival.
Both of these films offered something new which attracted audiences.
There are two solutions in order for an Australian film to be profitable in Australia.
- More money spent on distribution, marketing and advertising
- Getting a release in other countries before being released in its home country.
Australians need to get behind the local film industry because I have seen some wonderful Australian films over the past few years like Ten Canoes, Mystery Road and Charlie’s Country. These films are examples of great Australian films that don’t get enough notice and they deserve a how lot more. For people who read this I ask you this, when was the last time you saw and Australian film at the cinema?
McKenzie, J. & Walls, W.D. 2013, “Australian films at the Australian box office: performance, distribution, and subsidies”,Journal of cultural economics, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 247-269.
Bosanquet, T. 2007, Behind the Scenes: Marketing and Distributing Australian Films, The Australian Teachers of Media Inc, St Kilda.