Australian Box Office Drops 2.3 Percent in 2014

Courtesy of Lionsgate

It hit the lowest mark in three years, but stayed above the billion-dollar mark in local currency, with the latest 'Hunger Games' film leading the charge.

Australian box-office revenue fell 2.3 percent in 2014 to hit its lowest point in three years, but stayed above the billion Australian dollar mark.

Box-office revenue in the country reached $877 million (AUS$1.075 billion), according to figures released by the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA) on Wednesday. In 2011, the Australian box office had hit a record $992.87 million (AUS$1.128 billion).

A total of 505 films were released in Australia, with Lionsgate's The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 taking the top spot for the year with $26.75 million in ticket sales. That was less than the second film in the Hunger Games franchise, Catching Fire, which was second overall in 2013 with box-office revenue of $30 million.

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Australia-made animated feature The Lego Movie took the second spot in 2014, grossing $24.34 million, while Paramount’s Transformers: Age of Extinction rounded out the top three with a gross of $22 million.

Stephen Basil-Jones, chairman of the MPDAA, said: "Up against the comparable USA and United Kingdom market results, the Australian market has performed well and shown great resilience. The digitalization, expansion and improvement of cinemas by Australian exhibitors has significantly enhanced the moviegoing experience."

The average ticket price in 2014 reached $11.25 in Australia.

But Basil-Jones said that the issue of piracy was still a major threat to Australian cinema. The MPDAA noted that the IP Awareness Foundation’s 2014 research showed that piracy among adults is increasing and that around one in four Australians, aged 12–64, accesses illegal film and TV content from pirate websites.

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Australian distributors and exhibitors, content creators and copyright owners are working with the Australian government to enable legislation that protects copyright.

The lackluster performance of Australian films at the local box office has also been the topic of much debate here recently, with the total share sitting at below 2.38 percent according to several local reports, although these have not yet been verified.

Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner, which opened on Boxing Day, took the top spot among Aussie releases in 2014, ponying up $4.66 million in its first week and continuing to build across January to take in more than $10.7 million to date.

The other top performing movies of 2014 in Australia were Gone Girl ($21.96 million), How to Train Your Dragon 2 ($21.86 million), Guardians of the Galaxy ($21.83 million) and Disney’s Frozen ($20.95 million). No films released in 2014 cracked the top 10 box-office hits of all time in Australia.

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The Wolf of Wall Street, at number eight ($19.4 million), is the highest-ranking R-rated film to make the top-10-grossing films in Australia for a year since Basic Instinct in 1992. Sony Pictures’ 22 Jump Street and Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past rounded out the top 10 films down under in 2014, taking $18.65 million and $18.5 million, respectively. 

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