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.
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 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.
The ten top grossing Australian films that earned over a million dollars in 2002 were:
* Earned in 2002, in addition to $9.9 million in 2001
| ||Film||Release Date||Distributor||Box Office|
|2||Rabbit-Proof Fence||21 February||Becker/Ocean||$7.5m|
|3||Dirty Deeds||18 July||Hoyts||$5.0m|
|4||Charlotte Gray (Aus/UK)||30 May||UIP/Universal||$4.2m|
|5||The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course||12 September||Fox||$3.9m|
|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|
|10||Garage Days||3 October||Fox||$1.3m|
Source: MPDAA at 31/12/2002
A total of 258 films were released in the Australian cinema market in 2002 according to the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA). There were 22 Australian releases - 19 feature films and three documentaries. US films dominate with approximately two thirds of films released in Australia being of US origin.
"While the market share is down on last year's figure of 7.8 per cent, the domestic gross remains strong with ten films earning over $1 million each in a year. In the context of the current negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement between the Australian and US governments, the box office figures are a potent reminder that the US is the dominant force in the audiovisual industry, capturing over 50 per cent of worldwide revenue, and taking more than 80 per cent of the annual gross Australian box office," said Kim Dalton, Chief Executive of the Australian Film Commission.
"The US clearly already has significant access to Australian markets and the AFC argues that Australia must preserve its right to develop and support its audiovisual media to achieve our cultural and social objectives."
The production value of the 19 Australian feature productions and co-productions released in 2002 was $148 million at an average of $7.8 million. According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) the average budget for a major US studio (eg, Disney, Warner Bros, Universal) film in 2001 was A$85.8 million (US$47.7 million) with the average for a minor US studio (eg, Miramax, New Line) film at A$56.6 million (US$31.5 million).
Roadshow Films' Managing Director Joel Pearlman said "The outstanding performance of Crackerjack at the Australian box office is a testament to the huge audience that has been waiting to see Mick Molloy on the big screen. Crackerjack has truly become one of the great Australian screen comedies."
Since its successful Australian release, Rabbit-Proof Fence has achieved significant international acclaim. Speaking from Los Angeles, director and producer Phillip Noyce said "I have been heartened by the international box office success of Rabbit-Proof Fence. It is proof that Australian films can cross cultural and language barriers all over the world, while still conveying a uniquely Australian story. As a filmmaker, the success of Rabbit-Proof Fence is perhaps even more rewarding by knowing that the world is beginning to hear the stories of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities."
Dirty Deeds, which starred Bryan Brown and Toni Collette, received a wide release. Deborah Balderstone, who produced the film with Brown, said "We are delighted with the success of Dirty Deeds in Australia which again proved that Australian audiences want to see Australian stories. It is extremely gratifying for everybody who worked on the film and hopefully a strong sign that the Australian film industry will continue to go from strength to strength."
Al Clark, producer of The Hard Word which featured an all-star Australian cast including Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths, said "We survived the engulfing forces of Attack of the Clones and Spider-man to reach a substantial box office total. Australian audiences clearly relished the film's many surprises, and the considerable appeal of its stars."
The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Coursewas distributed by 20th Century Fox. Marketing Director John Scott said "The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Coursehas struck a chord with audiences around the world. Steve Irwin is an extraordinary Australian who utilised the medium of film not only to entertain audiences in true 'Stevo' style but also to share his passion and dedication to the preservation and conservation of our planet and the incredible creatures that inhabit it."
Australian films' share at the box office 1992 to 2002:
Source: MPDAA (Total gross) and AFC (Australian share), 2003
|Year||Total Gross $m||% share|
"As always, this is a David and Goliath Story," said Kim Dalton. "Australian films represent 8.5 per cent of total films released during 2002. Total budgets of Australian films represent one per cent of the total budgets of US films released during the year. In this context, 4.9 per cent box office share is an impressive result. It demonstrates the support Australians continue to show for their own films and it underscores the need for continuing government support for the production of these films."