Australian Box Office Down 3 Percent in 2011; Yearly Earnings Still Over $1 Billion

Red Dog Film Review 2011

Red Dog Film Review 2011

"Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2," "Red Dog" were the top grossing and top local films respectively.

SYDNEY - The flurry of big ticket holiday features that were released in December came too late to set a new record for the Australian box office in 2011, with Australian box office earnings for 2011 down 3.08 percent on the previous years record to AUS$1.093 billion ($1.05 billion), according to official figures released by the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia on Monday.

The near record figures came despite a tough economic climate.

“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. 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,” Mike Selwyn, chairman of the MPDAA and managing director of Paramount Pictures Australia said.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the top grossing film of the year taking in $50.6 million, making it the 3rd highest grossing film ever in Australia. The bulk of the top 10 films for the year came from six franchises and/or sequels including Transformers: Dark Of The Moon ($37.5 million),The Hangover Part 2 ($32.7 m), The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – part 1 ($28.1m), Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($27.3m) and Fast And Furious 5 ($25.3m)

Other films rounding out the top 10 included Bridesmaids ($27.1m), Best Picture Oscar winner The Kings Speech ($26.8m in 2011 out of a total Australian box office of $31.05m), and Tangled ($22.2m), while local feature Red Dog came in at number 10 with $21.3 million - the first time in two decades that an Australian film has broken the $20 million barrier without having the backing of a major Hollywood studio.

Australian films share of the local box office also dipped in 2011 to 3.9 percent of overall takings, with the 44 Australian films released during the year earning $42.9 million, according to Screen Australia analysis of Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA) data.

While commercially, local films didn’t fare as well as they did in 2010, the 2011 Australian slate was regarded by many in the industry as a critical success as Australian films featured in all six premiere international film festivals.

“It is also important to remember that cinema screens are just one of the ways that Australians enjoy watching their films. For example, in 2011 there were 24 local films that completed their first release after screening in cinemas on video, online and television. Together these films have achieved 72.7 million views thus far,” said Screen Australia’s; acting CEO Fiona Cameron.

Selwyn said the result for Red Dog continued the trend back to Australian drama and the industry is looking for this to continue with a number of mainstream Australian titles scheduled for 2012.

Other Australian films posting solid box office  in 2011 were Sanctum ($3.9 million) and Oranges and Sunshine ($3.8 million). Bob Connolly’s acclaimed documentary Mrs Carey’s Concert delivered earned $1.2 million.making it the 4th highest-grossing Australian documentary.

Sanctum also had significant success overseas taking in $100 million worldwide, placing it in the all time top 10 Australian films in overseas territories.

Selwyn said 2012 was shaping up to be another “excellent” year, with films already scheduled including The Avengers, The Hunger Games, Men In Black 3, Ice Age, The Amazing Spider-man, Batman/The Dark Knight, the Bourne series, Twilight and Madagascar leading up to The Hobbit in December.”