Australian films have struggled to make an impact, even in Australia. Data by Screen Australia (beginning in 1977) shows that it has been rare for Australian films to reach at least 10% of the box-office earnings in any year in Australia (Screen Australia, 2011). In fact, 1994 was the last time this occurred.
In the current landscape, it seems clear that the perception, according to Verhoeven, is that “Australian films make for poor business” (2010, pp. 148). Verhoeven doesn’t necessarily agree with this perception, although he does believe that this perception comes from the idea that “Australians aren’t particularly interested in watching Australian films at the cinema”. He points out that while the 2007 Australian film Gabriel had a moderate box-office success, in 2008, the film was the second highest selling Australian DVD (2010, pp. 149). Hollywood makes big-budget films, and so Australians may only feel they are getting their money’s worth at the cinemas if they see a big blockbuster. Australian films on the other hand, are typically produced on a low budget, and may not be highly regarded by members of the public who regularly go to the cinemas. Big budget means a big film, and a reason to go to the cinema is to watch a big film on the big screen. Australian films produced on a small scale seem to resonate better with customers on the small screen, explaining their success on DVD.
Verhoeven, D. (2010), Chapter 8, The Media & Communications in Australia, 3rd edition, Crows Nest, NSW, Allen & Unwin.
Share of the Australian box office for Australian feature films, 1997-2011, 2011, Screen Australia, viewed 27 September 2012 <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/australianshare.asp>.
[ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 2 OCTOBER 2012. MAY HAVE BEEN EDITED SLIGHTLY]
This is the sixth of ten blogs I wrote for my university subject, Media in Australia, in 2012. The next four will be uploaded over the course of a few weeks, the links to which can be found here: https://stefanb33.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/media-in-australia-university-blogs/