Local films struggle to compete with Hollywood

MATTHEW WOTHERSPOON

Red-Dog-True-Blue-Poster

Red Dog: True Blue, the prequel to the 2011 box office hit Red Dog is expected to grace our screens on Boxing Day of this year. Photo: thereelbits

The Australian film industry could take a few lessons from foreign film markets on how to compete with blockbuster Hollywood films in local cinemas.

In 2014, Australian films accounted for less than 3% of the domestic box office, while 2012 saw only 43 Australian films released to cinema audiences out of the 584 exhibited that year.

Griffith University Film Academic, Dr Nico Meissner, argues that the lack of marketing support which Australian films receive contributes to the inconsistency of national box office revenue.

“Australia is trying to compete with Hollywood, when really we should be focusing on the time and support we give our films,” Dr Meissner said.

“A film isn’t going to receive much attention if it’s only screened for one week and there’s barely any financial support for marketing.

“Hollywood’s higher production values, advanced marketing and better distribution system is affecting local films across the world, and unless there are policies and really good support for homemade film, not much is going to happen for them.”

Associate Professor, Trish Fitzsimons, believes that while 2015 was one of the most successful years in Australian film history, homegrown films are still facing a massive problem competing against foreign language feature films to secure screen time.

“Last year was an exciting time for the Australian film industry, with films like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Water Diviner achieving worldwide success,” Associate Professor Fitzsimons said.

“But Australian films still struggle, as they operate under smaller marketing budgets, compared to poorly crafted but bigger budgeted Hollywood films dominate our film sector.”

“Hollywood films spend at least 105% of its production budget on its marketing and output deals to try and reach their target audience, while homegrown features only spend 20% of its budget on marketing.”

Independent filmmaker Arun Ketsirat said it’s the level of focus ‘bigger name’ transnational projects receive compared to local projects that is hindering the national industry.

“Most Australian films recently have had big budgets and are well produced, but because of the flooding from international studios, they’re screened at a short number of cinemas for a short amount of time,” Miss Ketsirat said.

“In my home country of Thailand, the industry focuses on homegrown production and if there are other films from Hollywood it is just part of the film culture. That’s what Australia should be doing.”

For more information about future Australian film projects and opportunities for funding, visit www.screenaustralia.gov.au.

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