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Australia: Good year in a tough market

AFM Territory Report

Aussie indie distribs report a good year in a tough market, with the squeeze being put on smaller titles.

“We can all see the pressure building on the theatrical sector, and films seem to be grossing less than they use to,” says Mark Gooder of Icon Films. “The arthouse crossover film is struggling a little and we seem to have a new threshold for these films of A$1.5-$2 million ($1.4-$1.9 million) when they use to gross closer to $2.9 million.”

Gooder, who offers Michael Caine starrer “Harry Brown” as a highlight for them this year, feels auds may be tempted away to ancillary markets, but he also notes strong support for local films, a point underlined by James Hewison of Madman Films, which had local hit with David Michod-helmed “Animal Kingdom.”

Troy Lum from Hopscotch Films, which had hits with “The Kids Are All Right” and “Bright Star,” says there is also a decline in word of mouth business, a key driver of indie auds.

“The market now is that people either see a picture en masse or not at all, so there is the first weekend and you’re gone,” Lum says. “It means that as an indie distrubutor you are forced to go wider and to increase expenditure on the first weekend, so you roll the dice on a bigger level. And that is harder on an indie distributor.”

Highlights

Top 2010 indie film: “Animal Kingdom,” $4.8 million (Madman Films)

Recent pickups: “Biutiful,” Madman Films; “Brighton Rock,” Madman Films; “The Iron Lady,” Icon Films; “Beginners,” Hopscotch; “Incendies,” Hopscotch

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