entertainment

Australia made 26 films last year. How many have you seen?

 

Here are 26 films. Think about how many you’ve seen:

1. 100 Bloody Acres

2. Adoration

3. Backyard Ashes

4. Blinder

5. Cosmic Psychos: Blokes You Can Trust

6. The Darkside

7. Drift

8. The Earth Wins

9. Fallout

10. Goddess

11. The Great Gatsby

12. Hidden Universe 3D

13. I am a Girl

14. In Bob We Trust

15. Lygon Street – Si Parla Italiano

16. Mary Meets Mohammed

17. Mystery Road

18. Patrick

19. Red Obsession

20. Return to Nim’s Island

21. The Rocket

22. The Railway Man

23. Satellite Boy

24. Save Your Legs

25. The Turning

26. Unchartered Waters: the Wayne Lynch Story

How did you go? I’ve only seen three (The Great Gatsby, I am a Girl and Goddess). I might be able to up that to four if my friend and I get our lives together and manage to find a time to see The Railway Man.

australian films 2013
The Great Gatsby.
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These are 26 Australian films that received a cinema release for the first time in 2013.

Local cinema is an interesting thing to think about at this time of year, when we’re all caught up in awards season and rushing to see the films nominated for Best Picture before The Oscars roll around in March.

Ninety one per cent of Australians believe that having a local film industry is important, with one in five citing the need to stop Australian culture from being overwhelmed by Hollywood films as their primary reason for a local industry. But, does that sentiment translate across to bums on seats?

No.

Only two of these films were ranked in Australia’s top 100 for box office takings (The Great Gatsby, ranked #6, and The Railway Man, ranked #64). And, let’s be honest, the Luhrmann epic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and the movie with Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth in it are obviously the outliers in this group.

It was a similar story in 2012, when The Sapphires, Mental and Kath & Kimderella were the only Australian films to crack the top 100 from a field of 27.

But, don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s not all your fault, Australian cinema-going public. Part of the issue is that Australian films get fewer screens than their international counterparts. From The Conversation:

The vast majority of Australian films receive a limited (less than 20 screens) or specialty (20 to 100 screens) release – 70% of Australian films were released on less than 100 screens in 2012. By contrast, 57% of US films went out on at least 100 Australian screens in 2012, and 38% on 200 plus screens.

Even if cinemas are businesses. And they really just show what they think will be profitable. And that is based on market forces. Which means that the real reason why Australian films don’t get screens is because cinema owners know that there isn’t an audience for them.

So, yeah, Australian cinema-going public, it is pretty much all your fault.

Australian films 2013
Red Dog. On DVD…
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If it’s any consolation, the figures look a little cheerier when you bring in DVD sales and TV broadcasts. Australian films account for roughly nine per cent of DVD movie sales (keep in mind that the data in that hyperlink only pertains to DVD sales as a whole, failing to take into account that half of DVDs sold are not films). And, they often rate well when played on Free-to-air TV.

I am guilty as charged in this respect. I watched Red Dog on DVD after I bought it as my dad’s birthday present two years ago. I hadn’t see Tomorrow When the War Began until Channel Ten aired it. Maybe it’s the comparatively modest publicity budgets, or just the promise of a fast-tracked journey to TV, but I often feel like there’s a lack of urgency to see an Australian film when it is in cinemas.

So, if people would rather watch Aussie films snuggled up on the couch than with a $10 bucket of popcorn in hand at the pictures, why do we bother sending them to the cinema? From The Conversation:

Going to the cinema remains a popular activity for Australians, with 68% attending in 2012 an average of seven times.

And the theatrical model, which generally involves higher budgets and mixed finance sources, can allow for risky and ambitious stories which can be harder to finance through the television model where multiple factors, such as ratings, advertising and the overall program schedule need to be considered in making financing decisions.

Without the theatrical model, many of these stories would not be available to those who only watch on DVD or television. Cinema release also helps to establish broad awareness of films, building momentum as they make their way onto other platforms. For online viewing – where choice is virtually unlimited – content awareness is particularly important.

At this time of year, we all go a little bit movie crazy. The Boxing Day buzz films are out in full force. But, in amongst all of those big, buzzy films, spare a thought for the Aussie films. It’s good to get stuck into American Hustle (if only to ascertain whether Jennifer Lawrence’s 20 minutes were really Golden Globe-worthy) or be swept up in the Disney magic that is Frozen (faultless, in my humble, Idina Menzel-worshipping opinion), but make sure that you’re supporting local talent, too.

Or, do what I’m going to do this weekend; see The Railway Man and kill two birds with the one stone.

How many Australian films did you see in 2013?

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