UK films earned more than twice as much as Australian films in Australian cinemas in 2008 according to figures released today.
The 40 Australian films contributing to the overall 2008 local share sold US$23.3 million (A$35.5m) worth of tickets and represented 3.8 per cent of the total annual box office gross.
The 29 UK films on release earned US$49.4 million (A$75.3m) or eight percent, down on 2007's 13.9 per cent.
In terms of per film averages, Australian films took US$0.6m (A$0.9m) around one third of UK films US$1.7 (A$2.6m).
Most Australian films are released irrespective of perceived audience appeal as a requisite of the financing deal whereas, arguably, only the best UK films or those most suitable for Australia find their way into cinemas.
The figures were published today by Screen Australia as part of a thorough analysis of the 2008 performance of home-grown fare.
The film agency noted that Australia's total gross for 2008 roughly matches the 10-year average. Australia's local share has exceeded 10 per cent only three times in the last three decades.
As already reported in Screendaily.com, Australia's total gross in 2008 was US$620.3m (A$945.4m), which was an all time record.
US films, particularly studio films, dominate Australia on every level, as they do in most territories in the world.
In 2008 they tightened their grip compared to the previous year: the total box office for the 213 films that flowed across the Pacific was US$522.4 million (A$795.9m), an 84.2 per cent market share compared to 77.7 per cent in 2007. On average, each US film earned US$2.4 million (A$3.7m).
France had the fourth biggest share of the Australian theatrical marketplace. The 29 French films released into Australia - the same number as the UK - grossed US$11 million (A$16.6m), which equated to a total share of 1.8 per cent and a per film average of US$0.4m (A$0.6). Other film providers included Germany (five films and a US$3.2m/A$4.9m gross), India (39 films, US$2.8m/A$4.3m gross) and Canada (10 films, US$1.7m/A$2.6m).
Historically, the size of the local share is most influenced by whether there was a US studio-financed Australian-made blockbuster in the mix.
Last year Baz Luhrmann's Australia accounted for US$17.6m (A$26.9m) of the total - the film is still on release and, as of close of business yesterday, had grossed US$20.4 (A$31.1m) - just as Happy Feet accounted for a big slice of the 2007 result.
Screen Australia's analysis was conducted on figures provided by the Motion Picture Distribution Association of Australia. The data underline the tiny production and marketing budgets, and limited release patterns of Australian films compared to their US counterparts.
TOP LOCAL FILMS IN 2008
Australia, Fox, $17.6 (AS$26.9)
The Black Balloon, Icon, $1.5 (AS$2.3)
Children Of The Silk Road *, Fox, $0.8 (AS$1.2)
Unfinished Sky, Palace, $0.7 (AS$1.0)
Hey Hey It's Esther Blueburger , Disney, $0.5 (AS$0.8)
* Released as Children of Huang Shi in most other territories