Oz org unlocks grosses

Children's entertainment, tuners see revs rise

SYDNEY — Australian legit producers have always passionately resisted the idea of reporting weekly grosses, but with the release of the second annual Ticket Attendance & Revenue Survey by industry body Live Performance Australia, a clear snapshot of the country’s entertainment activity is emerging.

Musical theater enjoyed a strong uptick from 2004 to 2005, grossing a total of A$178 million ($137 million), up from $107 million. Non-musical theater fell from $69 million to $57 million, while children’s entertainment saw the biggest surge, quadrupling its 2004 revenues to earn $42 million in 2005.

LPA acting topper Suzanne Daley Carr concedes that because only two surveys have been completed, it would be misleading to use statistical terms like “trend” and “growth.”

“However, until this survey came along, the only measure was Australian Bureau of Statistics figures that reported the industry as much smaller,” she tells Variety.

Strong tuner result was due to the hit runs during the past season of “Dusty,” “Menopause the Musical,” “The Lion King” in Melbourne and the national tour of “Dirty Dancing.”

Circus Oz, which falls under the straight theater category, experienced a tough year at the B.O. In addition, downturns experienced by the Sydney Theater Company and Bell Shakespeare Company resulted in a 5% dip in ticket grosses.

Strong outcome for tyke entertainment was led by the Wiggles, High Five and the booming kids sector, which is earning top dollar despite low ticket prices.

Daley Carr expects that as the industry gathers better statistics, it will be better able to make a case to the government for tax breaks akin to those enjoyed by the national film biz.

“Unfortunately, there’s no international precedent, so we have to build a particularly strong argument,” she says.

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