|B.O. cume (through September): $466 million
Top title: “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith” (Fox, $27 million)
SYDNEY — The Aussie box office through September was tracking 7% below 2004, but with “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” “King Kong” and “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” pegged for release before the new year, distribs anticipate 2005 will end with a bang.
Where studio titles have struggled, so have indie pics — though there have been exceptions.
“We are witnessing a decline in audiences for younger, edgier-skewed fare,” says Dendy Films co-topper Andrew Mackie. “On the other hand, anything that appeals to the old, retiree market seems to be working incredibly well.”
For example, Icon Films released “Ladies in Lavender” with modest expectations, but five months later it was still playing on 35 screens and had grossed A$3.5 million ($2.7 million).
Mackie notes the 60-plus audience has timeand money and hasn’t adopted new technologies, such as home theater, as quickly as younger audiences. Recent research by Nielsen EDI also showed this demographic was the least inclined to watch pirated movies, but so far there has been a paucity of releases to satisfy their tastes.
In a change of fortune for Australia’s domestic industry, three local films recently enjoyed critical acclaim and some box office success. They are the first of many titles designed to appeal to this voracious, mature audience.
“It’s been pleasing to note a number of local successes including ‘The Oyster Farmer,’ ‘Look Both Ways’ and ‘Little Fish,'” says Roadshow Films topper Joel Pearlman. “It bodes well for a number of key titles releasing over coming months, including ‘Jindabyne.’ ”
Despite the softening DVD market, indie titles are still selling well. Likewise, the feevee market for indies remains strong, but free-to-air sales have diminished as Australia’s commercial networks continue to program drama series in slots previously dedicated to films.