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Australia Box Office Recovers, Grows 3.6% in 2018

Gross theatrical box office in Australia grew by 3.6% in 2018, to $890 million (A$1.25 billion). The score was propelled by a rebound in the performance of the top local films.

Data from the Motion Picture Distributors Assn. of Australia published Tuesday showed aggregate cinema revenues recovering after a dip in 2017. While the 2018 nationwide score is the second-highest on record, recent years are in a tight range, with 2015-2018 representing a plateau.

Australian-made films increased their share of the market, from 4.1% in 2017 to 4.5% in 2018. Their combined A$57.4 million (US$41 million) is the third-highest total on record. But data showed that just two titles – “Peter Rabbit” with A$26.7 million (US$19.1 million) and Ladies in Black” with A$12 million (US$8.58 million) – accounted for 70% of that. Some 39 out of the 61 Australian films released last year achieved less than A$100,000 (US$71,500), earlier MPDAA data show.

The MPDAA report showed that Australian cinemas are having to work harder to stand still. Average ticket prices fell from A$14.13 (US$10.22) in 2017 to A$13.86 (US$9.91) in 2018. And the number of titles released increased from 697 in 2017 to 758 in 2018, pointing to reduced mean revenues per film.

Hollywood-backed movies dominated again, with “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Incredibles 2,” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” leading the pack. Films from the soon-to-be merged Disney and Fox studios took the top five chart places. Sony’s Australian-made “Peter Rabbit” placed 10th.

The MPDAA said that “audiences have voted with their feet” and shown continued support for an entrenched part of Australian culture. That view was supported by trends which show good support for theatrical cinema among the group of frequent attendees (defined as moviegoers who visit between once per month and once per two weeks).

It also showed a reduction in movie piracy. “The numbers of pirates and the frequency of pirate activity by teens and adults [declined],” the MPDAA said. Outside research by Creative Content Australia showed behavior and attitudes turning against the social acceptability of piracy.

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