Australian Films Break Local Box-Office Records

Jasin Boland/Warner Bros.
Mad Max: Fury Road

Takings have topped $46 million, boasting the best year on record since 2001.

Led by Mad Max: Fury Road, Australian films have posted record revenue of $46 million (AUS$64 million) at the local box office, three months before the end of the year, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA) and national agency Screen Australia.

The figures surpass the all-time box office record of $45.3 million set in 2001. Australian films’ share of the local box office is currently sitting at 6.8 percent, also the best since 2001. Family film Oddball, starring Shane Jacobson and Jeremy SimsLast Cab To Darwin both performed above expectations in the past two weeks, helping push past the record over the weekend.  

And with several films still due for release, including The Dressmaker, starring Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth, this month, Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said the industry is on track to set a new benchmark, predicting it will finish with $50 million for its best ever year.

Mason said it's “clearly been a year to remember”.

“It’s so wonderful to see Australian films connecting so strongly this year. The film industry is somewhat cyclical, so it is difficult to make claims based on one year’s results alone ... given that the theatrical landscape is more challenging than ever before, Australian films have well and truly overperformed,” Mason said.

George Miller’s post-apocalyptic blockbuster Mad Max: Fury Road anchored the result, taking $15.5 million since May, while Russell Crowe’s directorial debut, The Water Diviner, took $7.2 million. Robert Connolly’s Paper Planes, well received at film festivals in 2014 and released here in January, drew $6.9 million. Oddball continues to build its audience, taking $5.8 million in just two weeks, and Last Cab To Darwin has taken $5.1 million.

Paper Planes and Oddball are both family films, finding audiences that are looking for independent family fare outside the superhero blockbusters.

Behind the top 5 are animated feature Blinky Bill, with $1.66 million, and documentary That Sugar Film, which with $1.22 million, is the top grossing Australian documentary of all time.

“I think this year’s films say something very interesting about what Australian life is like at the moment — what we care about and what our values are,” Mason said. “We’ve seen films about nostalgia and heroism, good-humored family larks, personal struggles and social conscience. In a year that’s seen a lot of turmoil, Australians have looked for stories that reflect their darker side as well as their care for social issues, and their need to laugh.”