Yikes. Inside Film posted this graph of the box office earnings for each of the Australian films that received theatrical releases of some kind this year. Bare in mind that the films at the lower rungs of the chart were all probably one-week only screenings before quick trips to DVD.
That explains those low numbers. Not much can explain such ridiculous low numbers for titles such as Newcastle and The Tender Hook. That latter title is, basically, the title that every single person who has an opinion on why Australian film is failing needs to take note of. With it's budget of $7mil it recouped less that 1% (if my calculations are correct). That is an epic disaster in every single way and yet it went completely unnoticed by the media and the government (the same government that uses our tax dollars to fund such disastrous follies).
Michael Joy's Men's Group has done well to get to $65,000 although I'm sure the team behind it (Titan) would have loved to replicate 2007 numbers for The Jammed. Son of a Lion's numbers indicate it was a word-of-mouth hit and that $100,000+ figure for Black Water is amazing considering it was released theatrically in only one state. Imagine if it had actually received a decent nation-wide release. IMAGINE! Salute pulling off the title of highest grossing documentary isn't surprising considering it was riding the Olympics wave, but those low numbers for the exciting Not Quite Hollywood still sting. Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger was lucky to get anywhere near $1million.
However, figures for the aforementioned Newcastle plus The Square, Dying Breed and Cactus - all of which were clearly going for more mainstream appeal than their tallies suggest - are all incredibly disappointing. Those numbers for The Black Balloon and Unfinished Sky are "nice" and would be perfectly acceptable if there were large-scaled hits above it, but it really shouldn't be seen as a positive that they're so high and yet with the sort of numbers that would disappoint an American or British prestige import.
Australia keeps on keeping on.
And so the wheels keep turning. Next year though there are a few titles lined up that could do well if they are actually marketed well and are, ya know, good. Adam Elliot's Mary & Max is his first feature after winning an Oscar for Harvey Krumpet. It's a high profile film, which helps, and has the glowing endorsement of America already and we all know how much we follow the USA like sheep in things like this. Another clay-animated film, $9.99 could do well on the limited screen circuit too.
Balibo, directed by Robert Connolly will hopefully not disappoint as it's an important well-known topic and got several "names" such as Anthony LaPaglia. If Rachel Perkins' Bran Nue Day gets a 2009 release I could see it doing surprising numbers. I'm also tipping that Steve Jacobs' Disgrace will do very well indeed. Unfortunately a great cast won't help titles like Ana Kokkinos' Blessed or the ridiculous looking Prime Mover, which will die quick box office deaths and yet nobody will seem to notice.
We shall see, folks... we shall see...