*Print* “Local audiences appear to have turned their backs on Australian Filmmakers”

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I have seen it mentioned a few times that there has been a downturn of people going to the movies and this year has been one of the worst for Australian cinemas.  I support our local industry – obviously I saw The Rover a few times and I also watched Felony.  I loved both films but I’m definitely a staunch fan of Australian cinema.  Here’s a little insight from News.com:

“The international reputation of local directors such as David Michôd, the Spierig brothers, and Zac Hilditch is blossoming in almost inverse proportion to their share of the box office back home.

With 2014 shaping up to be Australia cinema’s worst domestic performance in 10 years, the trend looks set to continue.


“I am not going to duck — as someone who has spent my whole life in this business, it is concerning me greatly that these films are not working,’” says Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason.

“Australians are clearly wanting to watch Australian content because they are watching it on television, and people offshore are celebrating our films and filmmakers, but there’s a disconnect getting them to the audience.

“It’s baffling to all of us”

Animal Kingdom launched the international careers of Edgerton (Exodus), Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises) and Sullivan Stapleton (300 Rise of an Empire). And it took Jacki Weaver all the way to the Oscars — twice.

Ridley Scott has described it as “great film”. US President Barrack Obama outed himself as a fan. And Brad Pitt was so impressed by Michod’s directorial debut, he hired him to helm his latest film.

But less than 500,000 Australians actually watched the acclaimed crime drama at the cinema. That’s less than a sixth of the audience for Channel Seven’s INXS: Never Tear Us Apart or a quarter of the nightly average for Nine’s The Voice.

Yet in local terms Animal Kingdom qualifies as a success.

Michod’s follow-up feature, The Rover, was selected for a prestigious midnight screening slot at the Cannes Film Festival, following in the footsteps of The Sapphires, The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert and Strictly Ballroom.

But the apocalyptic thriller, which starred Robert Pattinson and Guy Pearce, struggled to take more than $500,000 at the Australian box office.

For his third film, Michod is following his internationally-established cast to Hollywood after signing on to direct The Operators, about the rise and fall of General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of international and US forces in Afghanistan, for Brad Pitt’s production company Plan B.

“Animal Kingdom was an excellent casting tape, it’s true. And that’s a shame.’’

Australians are prepared to watch Edgerton in an American or British film. But they are more likely to watch his homegrown production on their television — unless it’s a splashy Hollywood-financed spectacle such as Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby.

But while local films perform poorly at the cinema, they do pick up large numbers of viewers on secondary platforms.

“Film in the cinema is just the tip of the iceberg,’’ says Mason.

“Underneath that is a myriad of people who legally — and unfortunately illegally — gets DVDs or download and watch them at a time and in a format that suits them.”

According to 2011 analysis by Screen Australia, only nine per cent of all viewings of Australian films occur at the box office. The other 91 per cent are spread across TV and DVD.

AUSTRALIAN FILM EARNINGS

THESE FINAL HOURS

“A brave, brash apocalyptic drama that achieves an instant impact, and also leaves a lasting mark. We need more Australian films like this. Four stars.” Leigh Paatsch

Box office takings: $460,000

FELONY

“A tense, stylish psychological thriller” Variety. “Impressive” The Hollywood Reporter.

Box office takings: $408,000

PREDESTINATION

“Sarah Snook is exceptional. Compelling and intriguing entertainment of the type you can experience more than once. Four and a half stars.” David Stratton.

Box office takings: $437,000

THE ROVER

“A career-refining performance by Robert Pattinson that reveals untold depths of sensitivity and feeling from the erstwhile Twilight star” Variety.

Box office takings: $540,000

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