Most cinemagoers probablydon't know Happy Feet is Australian,but the animated musical set in Antarctica hasbroken the record for the biggest opening week by an Australian film.

Distributor Roadshowreported that the film has entered the history books with a gross of $9.66m(A$12.128m) between and including Boxing Day (Dec 26) and New Year's Day. Incoming weeks it will start challenging some of the films that are the top fivehomegrown hits of all time. They are CrocodileDundee ($38m, A$47.7 million), Babe ($29.3m, A$36.8m),Moulin Rouge ($22m, A$27.7m), Crocodile Dundee II ($19.8m, A$24.9m)and Strictly Ballroom ($17.36m, A$21.8m).Like Happy Feet, all but Strictly Ballroom were made with Americanfunding.

Helped by Happy Feet's late surge, ticket sales toAustralian films have risen for the third consecutive year; in 2006 they were$31.9m (A$40m) according to figures from the Motion Picture DistributorsAssociation of Australian (MPDAA). This compares to $18.3m (A$23m) in 2005, $9.5m(A$12m) in 2004 and $23.8m (A$30m) in 2003.

Happy Feetcontributed$8.8m ( A$11.08m) to the 2006 result andthe other two other big Australian performers were Kenny and Jindabyne. Ofthe 22 Australian features released in cinemas, seven took more than $794,000 (A$1m).Seven documentaries also opened in cinemas, all as limited releases.

The MPDAA is yet to publishthe 2006 box-office gross for all films but it is expected to be at least $31.8m(A$40m) more than in 2005. This is a welcome bounce back given that the tickettally for 2005 fell to $649m (A$817.5m) from 2004'sall-time high of $720m (A$907m).

The Australian film share islikely to be 4.5%. Australia earned its highest-evershare of 23.5% in 1986, thanks to CrocodileDundee. Australian films nearly hit rock bottom in 2004 with a share of1.3%, the lowest in the nearly 30 years that records have been kept.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, The Da Vinci Code, Ice Age 2: The Meltdown, Casino Royale and Carswere the biggest hits after opening in 2006.

TOP TEN LOCAL FILMS IN AUSTRALIA, 2006

Happy Feet$8.8m (A$11.08m), distributed by Roadshow (still on release in top 20)
Kenny $6m (A$7.60m), distributed byMadman
Jindabyne $4.2m (A$5.28), distributedby Roadshow
Ten Canoes $2.6m (A$3.27),distributed by Palace
Kokoda $2.5m (A$3.14), distributed byPalace
Boytown $2.5m (A$3.12), distributedby Roadshow
Candy $1.3m (A$1.63), distributed by Dendy/Sherman
Footy Legends $442,438 (A$557,000),distributed by Icon
The Caterpillar Wish $362,275 (A$456,000),distributed by Palace
2:37 $355,125 (A$447,000),distributed by Roadshow