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Australian Films Have Best Ever Year at Local Box Office

mad max fury road
Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Powered by hits including “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Water Diviner” and “Paper Planes,” Australian films are having their best ever year at their home box office.

The cumulative score for Australian films is A$64 million (US$44.6 million), ahead of the previous best score of A$63.4 million in 2001, according to figures from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA). Data is for the year to Oct. 4, and shows that local films have accounted for 6.8% of the nationwide total in 2015.

“The film industry is somewhat cyclical, so it is difficult to make claims based on one year’s results alone. However, it is also important to celebrate success when it comes along, and given that the theatrical landscape is more challenging than ever before, Australian films have well and truly over-performed,” said Graeme Mason, CEO of industry funding body Screen Australia, in a statement.

“I think we’re on track for a particularly outstanding year – my prediction is that we’ll reach over $70 million by the end of 2015, setting a new benchmark,” said Mason. “The Dressmaker,” starring Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth and Kate Winslet will be released next month.

The figures represent a rebound after a 2014 in which several high profile local films flopped.

Mason suggested that the films that have succeeded in 2015 represent a particularly diverse range of genres and subject matter. “[From] nostalgia and heroism, [to] good-humoured family larks, personal struggles and social conscience. In a year that’s seen a lot of turmoil, Australians have looked for stories that reflect their darker side as well as their care for social issues, and their need to laugh,” he said.

Significantly, Screen Australia this month took the unusual step of encouraging a particular genre as it launched the ‘Family Films Initiative.’ “Family films represent one of the most lucrative genres at the Australian box office, yet in recent times the modest volume of scripts being submitted to Screen Australia for this category does not reflect the significance of the market,” the organization said in a call for scripts.

“’Red Dog,’ ‘Babe’ and ‘Paper Planes’ are three of the highest grossing Australian films of all time, with this genre also benefiting from high ancillary values such as DVD and merchandise sales,” said Sally Caplan, Screen Australia’s head of production. “We want to see the volume of live action family scripts coming to us significantly increase.”

Australian film grosses in 2015
“Mad Max Fury Rd” A$21.65 million
“The Water Diviner” A$10.18 million
“Paper Planes” A$9.65 million
“Oddball” A$8.12 million
“Last Cab to Darwin” A$7.15 million
“Blinky Bill The Movie” A$2.32 million
“That Sugar Film” A$1.71 million
“Holding the Man” A$1.14 million
“Ruben Guthrie” A$0.42 million
“Manny Lewis” A$0.41 million
Source: MPDAA, Screen Australia.