Aussie B.O. hits record $1.1 bil

U.S. films earn $931.5 million, a 83.2% share

Australia’s box office hit a record A$1.13 billion ($1.1 billion) in 2010, up 4% on the previous year.

In all, 403 pics were released, of which 177 were U.S. films that earned $931.5 million for an 83.2% share of the market, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Assn. of Australia.

“Avatar,” released at the end of 2009, led the pack, grossing $74.4 million last year. Pic’s total tally was $112.7 million, making it the highest-grossing film ever in Australia.

Aussie pics dipped slightly, taking 4.5% of the market, down from 5% last year, according to Screen Australia. Local pics notched up $50.3 million with nine earning in excess of $2 million.

Top spot went to Stuart Beattie-helmed “Tomorrow, When the War Began” with $13.4 million; indigenous tuner “Bran Nue Dae” was second with $7.6 million; crime drama “Animal Kingdom” and laffer “The Kings of Mykonos” both landed $4.8 million.

The 3D animated “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole” rounded out the top five local films with $4.7 million and did well overseas, topping $100 million in 24 territories.

“It’s not easy to get the balance right, but with special effects-laden action and animated adventure films through to comedy and crime in our top five, I believe the industry did get it right in 2010,” Screen Australia topper Ruth Harley said.

She praised the local industry for carving a niche in the burgeoning 3D market.”Next month we can expect the release of ‘Sanctum 3D’ from executive producer James Cameron and director Alister Grierson, which I think holds great promise,” Harley said.

(Leo Barraclough in London contributed to this report.)

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