Australian Box Office Tops $1.07 Billion in 2012

2012-17 REP The Avengers H

Chris Hemsworth (left) and Chris Evans are part of a cast that appeals to many demographics.

Led by "The Avengers," total box-office revenues were 2 percent short of the 2010 all-time record, while Australian films increased their share to 4.3 percent overall.

SYDNEY -- Australian audiences shelled out over AUS$1.1255 billion ($1.07 billion) at the box office in 2012, a 2.8 percent increase on the nation’s 2011 box office results but just two percent off the record set in 2010, according to figures released Wednesday by the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA).

The top ten films in 2012 at the Australian box office were led by Walt Disney's The Avengers, which grossed over $50.5 million. The latest in the Bond franchise, Skyfall, pulled in $42 million last year and continues  on screens in 2013, having taken $45.4 million to date. Warner Bros.' The Dark Knight Rises earned $41.2 million.

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Indeed, those three leading films joined the top ten ranking films of all time at the Australian box office, with The Avengers now ranked third overall behind Avatar and Titanic, Skyfall coming in at eighth position, and The Dark Knight Rises at tenth.

The other top-performing films in Australia in 2012 were Ted ($32.8M); teen franchises The Hunger Games ($29.7M) and Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn 2 ($28.2M); the latest in animation franchises, Ice Age 4 ($26.2M) and Madagascar 3 ($23M); and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel ($20.3M) and Sherlock Holmes Games of Shadows ($19M).

The near-historic result was also fuelled by a record Boxing Day down under, where all of the top ten movies released on December 26 took $10.3 million-plus. That included opening-day takings for The Hobbit, which broke the record for the biggest film ever to be released on Boxing Day with $5.6 million, and Les Miserables, Wreck-It Ralph, Parental Guidance and Skyfall.

“Clearly, 2012 benefited from a tremendous mix of commercial and highly entertaining movies, and consumers continue to demonstrate strong support for the timeless and unique appeal of going to the movies,” Marc Wooldridge, chairman of the MPDAA said.

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But he added that consumers “cannot be taken for granted"  and “keeping the movie-going habit top of mind … and improving the unmatched quality of the cinema experience is our collective priority as an industry.”

To that end, the Australian exhibition and distribution sectors have invested heavily in digital conversion.

A full 72 percent of the total 1,995 cinema screens in Australia are now converted to digital. Of those, 57 percent are 3D-capable, the MPDAA said.

“The future of cinema is digital and brings with it opportunities on both sides of the business in terms of presentation, operational efficiencies and new revenue opportunities,” Wooldridge said.

Audiences for Australian films also grew in 2012, with local features getting a 4.3 percent share of the box office, or $45.6 million in total, compared to 3.9 percent in 2011. Feel-good indigenous musical The Sapphires led the way locally with $13.8 million in takings, outgrossing Warner Bros Happy Feet 2, which took $7.7 million during the year and a total of $10.2 million since 2011. Local comedies  Kath & Kimderella ($5.8 million), A Few Best Men ($5 million) and Mental ($3.9 million) rounded out the top five.