SYDNEY– The Australian B.O. hit an all-time high last year — but the grim news for Aussie producers was that homegrown films took the lowest share of the pie since 1991.
Nationwide receipts soared to $A704.1 million ($457.6 million), a 12% gain on 1998 — the 12th consecutive year of growth.
Tickets sold were estimated at 88 million, up from 79.8 million in 1998, as the screen count rose by 10% to 1,740.
Given the absence of a “Titanic”-scale blockbuster, Aussie distribs were delighted that the marketplace’s healthy momentum continued.
“It was a wonderful trading year,” said Ian Sands, chairman of the Motion Picture Distributors Assn. of Australia and of Roadshow Film Distributors.
Sands notes the lack of a “Titanic”-sized megahit was more than compensated for by five films that each grossed more than $13 million.
The top earner was “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace,” which took in $24.7 million, followed by “The Sixth Sense” at $18.2 million. The other fat grossers were the “Austin Powers” sequel, “The Matrix” and “Notting Hill.”
However, it was another flat year for Oz films, whose B.O. share was a meager 3.01% — down from 4.06% in 1998 and 1997’s 5.1%. The nadir, reached in 1991, was 2.26%.
Only two national releases figured in the top 50 titles: Gregor Jordan’s crime caper “Two Hands” (which minted $3.5 million) and Ted Emery’s outback comedy “The Craic” ($3.4 million).