Australian Films Take About 5% of Local Box Office in 2010

Total gross box office in Australia set a record at $1.09 billion, up 4 percent over 2010.

SYDNEY -- Australians ponied up a record AUD$1.128 billion ($1.09 billion) at the cinema in 2010, an increase in gross box office of 4 percent on the previous year and the third consecutive year of record growth, thanks to films including Avatar, Toy Story 3 and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, according to figures released Thursday by the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia.

At the same time audiences embraced local films with Australian-made features taking a 4.5 percent share of the box office for a total of $50.6 million. The percentage total was in line with Australian films' 2009 share, but below the $54.8 million achieved the previous year. 

Avatar grossed over $75 million of tis total of $114 million in 2010, with tis total making it the all time highest-grossing film in Australia.

Toy Story 3 took a total of $42.4 million while Harry Potter 7 grossed $38.9 million. Alice In Wonderland was in the fourth spot with $37.5 million, and Christopher Nolan’s Inception rounded out the top five with $35.6 million.

Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia chair Joel Pearlman said the result was bolstered by “an exceptional slate of films and the growing popularity of 3D content."

“Against the tide of another tough economic year the film industry has produced a spectacular line up of films that drew audiences into cinemas in record numbers,” Pearlman said.

Also in the top 10 films were The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,  which grossed $34.2 million, Shrek Forever After ($27.5 million), Iron Man 2 ($25.9 million), Sex And The City 2 ($23.5 million) and Despicable Me ($22.2 million).

Pearlman added that the local sector also delivered a “diverse, exciting and highly successful line up of titles in 2010.

Topping the locally made rankings was Stuart Beattie’s teen action feature Tomorrow When The War Began that grossed $13.5 million, while indigenous musical Bran Nue Dae took $7.7 million. They were followed by crime thriller Animal Kingdom and comedy Wog Boy 2: The Kings of Mykonos that both earned $34.9 million each.

Animated family adventure Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole rounded out the top five with $4.8 million.

“Once again, Australian audiences have embraced a wide range of stories in 2010. Bran Nue Dae shows us that indigenous filmmakers are going from strength to strength, attracting larger audiences than ever before,” Ruth Harley, CEO of national film agency Screen Australia’s said.

“Most importantly we saw films for all ages and tastes. It’s not easy to get the balance right but with special effects–laden action and animated adventure films through to comedy and crime in our top five I believe in 2010 the industry did.”

“It was great to see the release of Australia’s Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole in 3D. This is an area of obvious interest, given the increasing popularity of the format and its propensity to attract premium ticket prices. The local industry is certainly beginning to carve out a niche in the 3D format,” Harley added.

Screen Australia’s analysis of local films in 2010 also looked at their international performance. with several significantly outperforming their local takings in other markets.

Citing data from the International Film and Television Association, Knowing grossed US$159.7 million from 25 territories and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole has grossed above $101 million over 24 territories to date, excluding Australia. Daybreakers followed earning more than $46 million from 20 territories, with Bright Star taking $13 million from 16 territories.

“We’ve got quality films that audiences are enjoying at the local box office and we’ve got films performing in the international marketplace comparable with the best indie films from around the world. There is much to be optimistic about,” Harley said.