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Australian films--2002 box office share. (Police Section).

Australian films earned $41.8 million or 4.9 per cent of the total Australian box office in 2002. While the percentage is down on 2001, the overall performance by Australian films was solid, with three Australian films earning over $5 million each and ten films taking more than $1 million each at the box office.

(see chart 01)

Topping the list was the Mick Molloy comedy Crackerjack with $7.7 million. It was closely followed by Rabbit-Proof Fence with $7.5 million and Dirty Deeds at $5 million. The UK/Australia official co-production Charlotte Gray earned $4.2 million, The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course took $3.9 million and The Hard Word took $2.9 million.

The number of Australian films to achieve success at the box office increased this year, though there was not a US studio financed hit on the scale of Moulin Rouge!. In almost all markets outside the US, high box office shares are reliant on at least one huge hit, such as Moulin Rouge! in the domestic market. Ten titles in 2002 took more than $1 million compared to six in 2001. This puts 2002 in the top three years of Australian films that have earned over $1 million (adjusted) at the box office. It is comparable to 1982 with eleven films and 1998 with ten.

(see charts 02 and 03)


The total box office for 2002 increased 4 per cent to $844.8 million, up from $812.4 million in 2001. This is the highest total box office in Australia ever.

There were 92.5 million admissions--the same total as 2001. The average ticket price was $9.13, up 4 per cent from $8.78 in 2001.

A total of 259 films were released in the Australian cinema market in 2002 according to the Motion Picture Distributors' Association of Australia (MPDAA). There were twenty-two Australian releases--nineteen feature films and three documentaries. US films dominate with approximately two thirds of films released in Australia of US origin.

(see chart 04)

The production value of the nineteen Australian feature productions and co-productions released in 2002 was $148 million--an average budget of $7.8 million. According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) the average budget for a major US studio (e.g. Disney, Warner Bros, Universal) film in 2002 was $A95.9 million (US$58.8 million) with the average for a minor US studio (e.g. Miramax, New Line) film at A$55.5 million (US$34.0 million).

Release patterns for the nineteen Australian feature films were polarized into either a wide or narrow release. Nine titles (forty-seven per cent) were exhibited on 100 or more screens with five (twenty-six per cent) exhibited on ten to twenty-nine screens and a further four (twenty-one per cent) exhibited on less than ten screens. This is very similar to the release patterns for the Australian features released in the three previous years (1999, 2000 and 2001).


As in most countries, the Australian box office continues to be dominated by big budget US productions backed by studios who run vigorous and well-resourced marketing campaigns. Movie franchises and event films based on well-established brands dominated the 2002 Australian box office, ensuring US supremacy with films like Spider-Man, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones; The Scorpion King, Scooby-Doo, Men in Black II, and Austin Powers in Goldmember.

* The top ten films watched by Australians grossed an average $25.1 million ($23 million in 2001). Star Wars: EP2 Attack of the Clones finished on top with $33.8 million.

* In 2002 the top fifty films took 72.2 per cent of the box office (73.6 per cent in 2001). Forty-two of the top fifty were from the US. Of the remaining eight, three were Australian, four were British (Bend it like Beckham, Gosford Park, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (UK/USA) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [UK/USA]) and one was French (Amelie).

* Including the two Harry Potter films, US-financed films dominated the top twenty with nineteen films. The UK-financed film, Bend it like Beckham, was the sole non-US-financed film in the top twenty coming in at fourteen.

* Overall, two-thirds (65.6 per cent) of films released at Australian cinemas in 2002 were of US origin. The US also controls the overall box office, taking 82.3 per cent of the Australian box office in 2002, up from 80.6 per cent in 2001.

* Two US studio films shot in Australia reached the top ten--these were Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones and Scooby-Doo.

* The average negative costs (budget) of US studio films were $95.9 million (US$58.8 million) in 2002. The average budget of Australian films released last year was $7.8 million.

* The average print and advertising figures for a US studio film in the US is $49.9 million (US$30.62 million) and for a minor studio film $18.24 million (US$11.18 million).

These figures are particularly significant in the context of the current negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between the United States and Australian Governments, and serve as a potent reminder that the US is the dominant force in the audiovisual industry.

The performance of Australian films screened in Australia vis-a-vis films from other countries screened in Australia can be assessed by the following table (see chart 05).

The twenty-two Australian films released in 2002 took an average of $1.7 million each, slightly down on the 2001 average of $2.3 million. The average result for the 24 UK films was $3.2 million each, down on $4.2 million last year; while the forty-three foreign films (non-UK/US) fetched on average $211,246 per film, also down from last year's $628,381 per film. The average take of the 165 US films in Australia was $3.6 million per film, ranging from over $33 million to just above $1000.


There has been mixed results for local films at domestic box offices in 2002, following the across-the-board increase in the market share of local films in 2001. This has largely been the result of a lack of local breakout films successes, as seen in 2001 with Japan's Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro No Kamikakushi), France's Amelie, Germany's Manitou's Shoe (Der Schuh des Manitu), Spain's The Others and from Australia, Moulin Rouge!.

The following countries national share decreased from 2001 to 2002: Spain's market share declined from eighteen per cent to 13.5 per cent, (1) French films' local share was down from forty per cent to 34.2 per cent; (2) Japanese local share was down to twenty-seven per cent from thirty-nine per cent in 2001, (3) while Italian films' market share dropped from twenty-one per cent to nineteen per cent. (4) Germany also experienced a decline in its local market share from 18.4 per cent to 9.1 per cent, (5) as did Hong Kong with a decrease of twenty-four per cent to 40.3 per cent and South Korea, (6) down from forty-nine per cent to forty-seven per cent. (7) The Netherlands experienced a five per cent increase in its local share moving from 9.4 per cent to 10.3 per cent, as did the share of English-language films in Canada, rising from 0.2 per cent of the 2001 box office to 1.4 per cent in 2002. (8)

US films continue to dominate the local box-offices worldwide with few local film breakouts in 2002, the major exception being the Japanese film, Spirited Away

The top films worldwide are also largely franchise films.

(see chart 06)

According to the MPAA, the international box office gross reached a record $15.7 billion (US$9.64 billion), an increase of twenty per cent on 2001. The MPAA put this growth down to 'the wide release of major blockbuster hits, the success of a number of co-productions (including The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter) and a slump in the US dollar worldwide.'

Six films in 2002 earned over US$250 million. (see chart 07)

Commenting on the international arena, Robert Mitchell of Screen International wrote:

2002 was the year that franchise films took control around the world: no less than four of the top five films of the year were sequels ... another six franchise entries appeared in the worldwide top 25 of the year--and that is not counting The Scorpion King (a character launched in The Mummy franchise) nor The Sum of All Fears (the fourth Jack Ryan thriller but first to star Ben Affleck in the role), which also feature. (9)

According to The Australian, more of the same is expected in 2003:

Hollywood is to release a record 27 remakes and sequels this year--from follow-ups to Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The Terminator to a new version of the 1960s thriller The Italian Job ... up by one-third compared with 2002. (10)

The US film industry continues to grow as well. The MPAA indicates that the US box-office rose by 13.2 per cent to a record US$9.5 billion in 2002--the highest year-to-year increase in twenty years. This rise is largely attributed to the large number of event films and sequels. (11) There were 467 films released in the US market.


Despite a fall in box office returns, Australian films and Australian film-makers continue to receive critical praise overseas.

* Rabbit-Proof Fence was chosen as one of the top ten films of 2002 by the prestigious National Board of Review and received an award of Special Recognition for Reflecting Freedom of Expression. Phillip Noyce was also awarded Best Director for his work on Rabbit-Proof Fence and The Quiet American. The film has won the Audience Award for most popular film at numerous international festivals including the Edinburgh International Film Festival, the Aspen Film Festival, the Calgary International Film Festival, the Durban International Film Festival, the Denver Film Festival and the Leeds International Film Festival. Rabbit-Proof Fence recently succeeded in garnering a Golden Globe nomination in the Best Original Song category.

* Beneath Clouds screened In Competition at the Berlin International Film Festival. The film's director Ivan Sen was awarded the Premiere First Movie Award and actress Dannielle Hall was awarded the Piper Heidsjeck New Talent Award.

* Walking on Water was also successful at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2002, taking the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film and the Reader's Prize of the Siegessaule.

* The Tracker directed by Rolf de Heer was awarded a special jury prize at the Valladolid International Film Festival and was screened In Competition at the Venice International Film Festival. Rolf de Heer's next film, Alexandra's Project, recently screened, in Competition at the 2003 Berlin International Film Festival.

* 2002 Academy Awards: The success of the films above follow the significant achievement for the Australian film Moulin Rouge! at the 2002 Oscars with eight nominations including one for best picture. In all there were a record twelve nominations for Australians and Australian films and three victories: AFTRS graduate Andrew Lesnie for Best Achievement in Cinematography for The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, Catherine Martin and Brigitte Broch for Best Achievement in Art Direction in Moulin Rouge! and Catherine Martin again, with Angus Strathie for Best Achievement in Costume Design for Moulin Rouge!. Moulin Rouge! had previously won three awards at the Golden Globes--Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for Nicole Kidman and Best Original Score for Craig Armstrong.

* 2003 Academy Awards: The recognition of Australian talent at the Academy Awards continues in 2003 with four nominations for Australians. Nicole Kidman has been nominated for the second year in a row in the Best Actress category--this time for her work in the Best Picture nominee The Hours--for which she has already been awarded a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for Best Actress in a Drama. Cinematographer and AFTRS graduate Dion Beebe has also been nominated for his work on Chicago, after having already been nominated for a BAFTA. Other nominees include: Ben Snow nominated for Achievement in Visual Effects for his work on Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones; and Steven Pasvolsky and Joe Weatherstone's short film Inja, produced at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, in the Best Live Short Action film category. Australia's ever-growing pool of film-making talent continues to proudly wave the Australian flag, with high praise for the likes of Naomi Watts who, following her success with Mulholland Drive, starred in box office success The Ring. Other Australian actors to make an impact internationally in 2002 include:

* Eric Bana in Black Hawk Down;

* Cate Blanchett in Heaven;

* Gia Carides in My Big Fat Greek Wedding;

* Toni Collette in the box office hit About a Boy (for which she was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress) as well as The Hours and Changing Lanes;

* Rachel Griffiths in The Rookie;

* Anthony La Paglia in Road To Perdition;

* Heath Ledger in Monster's Ball;

* Jacqueline McKenzie in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood;

* Frances O'Connor in The Importance of Being Earnest and John Woo's Windtalkers;

* Miranda Otto, David Wenham, Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers;

* Guy Pearce in The Time Machine and The Count of Monte Christo; and

* Geoffrey Rush in Frida and The Banger Sisters.

Australian crew also continue to produce distinguished work internationally in 2002 including:

* Cinematographer Ian Baker with Queen of the Damned;

* Editor Jill Bilcock with Road to Perdition;

* Director Fred Schepisi with Last Orders;

* Director Michael Rymer with Queen of the Damned;

* Cinematographer Christopher Doyle with The Quiet American and Made;

* Cinematographer Andrew Lesnie with The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers for which he was nominated for Best Cinematography BAFTA;

* Cinematographer Donald McAlpine with The Time Machine and The Quiet American; and

* Cinematographer Dean Semler with We Were Soldiers and D-Tox.


2002 marked the start of the Federal government's $92.7 million funding package to the film sector. The package involved both the introduction of the refundable tax offset aimed at attracting large foreign film productions to Australia, as well as new funding for the AFC--directed at the crucial areas of script and professional development--the Film Finance Corporation (FFC), the Australian Film Television and Radio School, SBS Independent, Film Australia, AusFILM and the Film Industry Broadband Resources Enterprise.

However, despite this additional funding, there has been an overall reduction in funding available for the production of Australian feature films. Additional funding for the FFC announced in 2001 was restricted to the funding of adult and children's television drama, and the Film Licensed Investment Companies (FLIC) scheme, which made a significant contribution to financing Australian features in its final year of operation, investing around $16 million in nine titles, eight of which were shot in 2002, has ended. Add to this the fact of ever-rising production costs and the unsurprising result is that fewer Australian feature films are being made.

Kim Dalton stated at the release of the National Survey of Feature Film and TV Drama Production 2001/02:

Private investment will always have a role, and foreign sources are particularly important in financing higher-budget local features, but direct government funding sources continue to underpin the core Australian feature slate. Our analysis indicates that, on average, government agencies have consistently provided more than 42 per cent of the funding for locally financed features each year.

Despite the reduction of funding for Australian films and the expected release of a number of Hollywood franchised films, 2003 is shaping up to be a strong year for Australian film. Australian films slated for release include:

* Gregor Jordan's Ned Kelly starring Heath Ledger;

* AFI Best Picture Nominee Swimming Upstream starring Geoffrey Rush and Judy Davis;

* Anthony Mir's You Can't Stop the Murders;

* Sue Brooks' Japanese Story with Toni Collette;

* Tony Martin's Bad Eggs with Crackerjack star Mick Molloy;

* Fat Pizza from the makers of cult SBS TV series Pizza;

* Tony McNamara's Rage in Placid Lake;

* Paul Goldman's follow-up to Australian Rules, The Night We Called it a Day;

* Ted Emery's The Honourable Wally Norman;

* Paul Currie's One Perfect Day;

* Richard Franklin's Visitors; and

* Marc Gracie's Take Away with Vince Colosimo.

Australian Film Commission March 2003

(For Appendixes 1 and 2 see charts 08 and 09)

OFFICE 1992 TO 2002.

Year   Total Gross   % Share

1992   29.7          9.0
1993   24.7          6.4
1994   46.6          9.8
1995   19.8          3.9
1996   43.7          8.3
1997   28.4          4.9
1998   25.6          4.0
1999   21.1          3.0
2000   54.2          7.9
2001   63.4          7.8
2002   41.8          4.9

Source: MPDAA and AFC Policy Research and Information

CHART 02. Earned in 2002, in addition to $9.9 million in 2001.


Film                      Release Date     Distributor     Box Office

1 Crackerjack             7 November       Roadshow        $7.7m

2 Rabbit-Proof Fence      21 February      Becker/Ocean    $7.5m

3 Dirty Deeds             18 July          Hoyts           $5.0m

4 Charlotte Gray          30 May           UIP/Universal   $4.2m

5 The Crocodile Hunter:   12 September     Fox             $3.9m
Collision Course

6 The Hard Word           30 May           Roadshow        $2.9m

7 Lantana                 4 October 2001   Palace          $2.4m

8 The Nugget              17 October       Roadshow        $1.9m

9 Blurred                 31 October       Becker/Magna    $1.4m

10 Garage Days            3 October        Fox             $1.3m

Source: MPDAA at 31/12/2002



Film                    Release Date   Distributor       Box Office

1 Moulin Rouge!         24-May-01      Fox               $27,431,931

2 Lantana               04-0ct-01      Palace            $9,883,101

3 The Man Who Sued      25-0ct-01      BVI               $8,108,300

4 Crocodile Dundee in   12-Apr-01      UIP/Universal     $7,759,103
Los Angeles (Aus/US)

5 The Bank              06-Sept-01     Footprint Films   $2,451,648

Source: MPDAA at 31/12/2001

CHART 04. * Includes only those films released in that year and does
not include those released the previous year still in cinemas.


                     Number of Films                   % Box Office

                     2001 *   %       2002 *   %       2001    2002 *

Australia            27       11.0%   22       8.5%    8.1%    5.1%
US (mainly studio    165      67.1%   170      65.6%   80.9%   83.2%
UK films             14       5.7%    24       9.3%    7.7%    10.4%
Other (mainly        40       16.2%   43       16.6%   3.3%    1.2%
  Europe and Asia)
Total                246              259

Source: AFC analysis of MPDAA data

CHART 05. * Includes only those films released in that year and does
not include those released the previous year still in cinemas.

2001 *
        No of     Total 2001   Ave. BO
        feature   only BO

Aust    27        $60.9m       $2.3m
UK      14        $58.3m       $4.2m
Other   40        $25.1m       $628,381
US      165       $610.5m      $3.7m

2002 *
        No of     Total 2002   Ave. BO
        feature   only BO

Aust    22        $38.6m       $1.7m
UK      24        $78.0m       $3.2m
Other   43        $9.0m        $211,246
US      170       $624.5m      $3.6m

Source: AFC analysis of MPDAA data


1  Spider-Man                        $822m

2  Harry Potter and the Chamber      $718m
   of Secrets

3  Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack   $648m
   of the Clones

4  Men in Black II                   $442m

5  The Lord of the Rings: The Two    $434m

6  Signs                             $401m

7  Ice Age                           $378m

8  Minority Report                   $334m

9  Die Another Day                   $317m

10 Austin Powers in Goldmember       $296m

Source: Screen International January 6-9 2003


1 Harry Potter and the Chamber         $476m
  of Secrets

2 Spider-Man                           $418m

3 The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship    $386m
  of the Ring

4 Star Wars: Episode II -- Attack of   $337m
  the Clones

5 Ocean's Eleven                       $256m

6 Men in Black II                      $251m

Source: MPAA Snap Shot Report: 2002
International Theatrical Market



Title                              Release Date   Distributor

Australian Rules                   8/29/02        Palace
Beneath Clouds                     5/23/02        Dendy
Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns      9/5/02         Palace
Black & White                      10/31/02       New Vision
Blurred                            10/31/02       Becker/Magna
Charlotte Gray                     5/30/02        UIP/Universal
Crackerjack                        11/7/02        Roadshow
Crocodile Hunter                   9/12/02        Fox/MGM
Day Neil Armstrong Walked on the   5/9/02         Talking Heads
  Moon, The
Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky, The    4/25/02        Sharmil
Dirty Deeds                        7/18/02        Hoyts (New)
Garage Days                        10/3/02        Fox
Hard Word, The                     5/30/02        Roadshow
Horses                             9/12/02        Imax
My Mother India                    8/29/02        Ronin Films
Nugget, The                        10/17/02       Roadshow
Rabbit-Proof Fence                 2/21/02        Becker/Ocean
Till Human Voices Wake Us          9/12/02        Globe/Instinct
Tracker, The                       8/8/02         Globe
Trojan Wards                       8/8/02         Triple Three Film
Walking on Water                   9/26/02        Dendy
Willfull                           8/29/02        Latent image

Source: MPDAA at 31/12/2002.



     Title                                   Distribution    Box Office

1    Star Wards: EP2 Attack of the Clones    Fox             33.8m
2    The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship   Roadshow        31.9m
       of the Ring
3    Spider-Man                              Columbia        30.8m
4    Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets   Warner Bros     30.3m
5    My Big Fat Greek Wedding                Roadshow        23.9m
6    Ocean's Eleven                          Roadshow        22.2m
7    Ice Age                                 Fox             20.5m
8    A Beautiful Mind                        UIP/Universal   19.8m
9    Austin Powers in Goldmember             Roadshow        19.3m
10   Scooby-Doo                              Warner Bros     18.2m
11   Monsters Inc                            BVI             18.1m
12   Men in Black II                         Columbia        17.6m
13   The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers   Roadshow        17.5m
14   Die Another Day                         Fox/MGM         13.6m
15   Lilo & Stitch                           BVI             12.9m
16   Bourne Identity, The                    UIP/Universal   12.9m
17   Bend it Like Beckham                    Icon            12.7m
18   Minority Report                         Fox             12.0m
19   Signs                                   BVI             11.9m
20   Harry Potter and the Philosopher's      Warner Bros     11.0m

Source: MPDAA at 31/12/2002


(1) Jennifer Green, 'Spanish Cinema takes heart from new figures,' Screen International, 27 February 2003.

(2) France levies an eleven per cent foreign film tax per ticket sold at the box-office, which is used to subsidize French film production, also there is a minor quota requiring that five weeks per quarter be devoted to French films (four weeks for theatres that screened six weeks of French short subjects in the preceding quarter).

(3) Mark Schilling, 'Japan loses yen for cinema,' Screen International, February 7 2003; 'World Box Office 2002', Screen International, February 28 2003.

(4) 'H'w'd biggies rule o'seas,' Variety, Jan 5 2003 and http: // toryid=10842&st=box+office&s=3 Malnie Rodier, 'Italian Comic trio Dethrone Warner's Wizard,' Screen International, January 6-9.

(5) Martin Blaney, 'German cinema admissions slip back in 2002,' Screen International, 10 January 2003.

(6) 'World Box Office 2002,' Screen International, 28 February 2003.

(7) Korea has a screen quota of 146 days/year since 1967.

(8) Canadian Film and Television Production Association, Profile 2003: An Economic Report on the Canadian Film and Television Production Industry, 2003.

(9) Robert Mitchell, 'Franchises on top in 2002,' Screen International, January 6-9 2003.

(10) 'It's seconds of everything on movie moguls' menu,' The Australian, 20 January 2003.

(11) 'US box office enjoys record year,' Guardian Unlimited, 30 December 2002, at news/story/0,12589,866666,00.html

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Author:Macrae, Drew; Griff, Catherine
Publication:Metro Magazine
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Mar 22, 2003
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