The Australian box office chart was dominated by Hollywood blockbusters.

Finding Dory

Australians are continuing to flock to the cinemas, with annual box office data indicating that 2016 was another record-breaking year for movie distributors.

The Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA) revealed this week that the 2016 annual gross revenue totalled USD $951,000,928 with takings up 2.69% on the previous record-setting 2015.

The top film of 2016 was Pixar’s Finding Dory, which closed 2016 at $36m, having  bettered the $27m taken in 2003 by its predecessor, Finding Nemo. Deadpool came in second place, with $32m. The mid-December release of Disney’s Rogue One: a Star Wars Story earned it third place, with $27m in the final 2 weeks of the year. Suicide Squad overcame its universally bad reviews to finish with $25.8m, closely followed by Captain America: Civil War ($25.4) and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them ($23.5m). The top 10 was rounded out by Star Wars: the Force Awakens ($23.5m), The Jungle Book ($2.4m), Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice ($22.4m), and The Secret Life of Pets ($22.3m).

The three Australian documentaries released into cinemas in 2016 were all directed by woman, and each landed on the list of top grossing Australian documentaries (excluding IMAX): Jen Peedom’s BAFTA-nominated Sherpa took $960k to earn third spot; Taryn Brumfitt’s body image advocacy film Embrace made $830k to sit at number 5, and Eva Orner’s AACTA Award winning politically-charged story, Chasing Asylum, took $434K, and now sits in eighth position.

The overall domestic box office dipped in 2016, in the wake of a record-breaking 2015. Whereas home grown hits such as Mad Max: Fury Road and The Dressmaker helped local films to account for 7.1% of the overall 2015 box office, the picture was remarkably different in 2016, when no Australian film was able to break the 10m Australian dollar mark.

Total takings were $18m – or a 1.9% share, with the best performing local film, Mel Gibson’s Oscar-nominated, Australian made and agency funded Hacksaw Ridge, taking $6.4m. Red Dog: True Blue – a sequel to the hit 2011 family-friendly Red Dog – fell well short of its predecessor’s $15m; True Blue is currently sitting at $5m in its fourth week of release, in the final days of the Australian summer school holidays.  

Looking ahead, 2017 has already started strong for local films, with Garth Davis’ Australian-produced best film Oscar nominee Lion taking $3.78m in its opening weekend – the stellar result marks the fifth biggest opening weekend ever for a local production (behind studio fare The Great Gatsby, Australia, Happy Feet and Mad Mad: Fury Road). 

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2016

As of 31 December 2016.

1. Finding Dory (WALT DISNEY) - $36,669,521

2. Deadpool (FOX) - $32,672,931

3. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (WALT DISNEY) - $27,479,528

4. Suicide Squad (WARNER BROS) - $25,882,494

5. Captain America: Civil War (WALT DISNEY) - $25,474,219

6. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them (WARNER BROS) - $23,563,477

7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens (WALT DISNEY) - $23,521,684

8. The Jungle Book (WALT DISNEY) - $22,492,006

9. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (WARNER BROS) - $22,411,825

10. The Secret Life Of Pets (UNIVERSAL) - $22,320,450