The Australian B.O. is running hot, outpacing last year by more than 14%, and some industry mavens predict 2015 will set an all-time record.
Distributors and exhibitors are more than usually confident about the second half release line-up, including at least half a dozen Australian films.
Powered by Mad Max: Fury Road ($20.5 million in five weeks), Paper Planes and The Water Diviner, local films have raked in $42.8 million this year, already eclipsing the paltry 2014 calendar total of $26.1 million and 2013’s $38.5 million.
The Sydney Film Festival looks like being an effective launching pad for Brendan Cowell's Ruben Guthrie (which opens on July 16 via Madman), Gillian Armstrong's Women He's Undressed (Rialto, also July 16), Jeremy Sims' Last Cab to Darwin (Icon, August 6), Neil Armfield’s Holding the Man (Transmission, August 27) and Simon Stone’s The Daughter (Roadshow, September 10).
There is a positive buzz about other upcoming releases including Stuart McDonald’s rustic comedy Oddball (Roadshow, September 17) and Jocelyn Moorhouse’s 1950s-set comic drama The Dressmaker (Universal, October 22).
“The Australian product in the main has been excellent," Wallis Cinemas program manager Bob Par tells IF. “Last Cab to Darwin deserves to do well and from what we have seen of The Dressmaker it does too. Oddball looks good and if Roadshow can pull off a great campaign as they did with Paper Planes it ticks all the boxes.”
Through last Sunday nationwide receipts totalled $582.8 million, up 14.7% on the corresponding period in 2014, according to Rentrak.
“I’m very confident the year will be an all-time record,” says Universal Pictures MD Mike Baard, who just launched Minions, to be followed by Ted 2, Trainwreck, Everest and Crimson Peak.
Universal's Jurassic World hauled in $20.3 million, the seventh highest opening week of all time.
The industry is “on track for a record year and the hits will keep on coming,” agrees Sony Pictures Releasing Executive VP Stephen Basil-Jones, who will unleash the James Bond opus Spectre on November 12.
Last year, takings reached $1.074 billion, down 2.28% on 2013. The all-time record is 2010’s $1.128 billion.
“The second half of calendar 2015 is a little more uncertain with late August through to October potentially less strong," said Paramount Pictures MD Mike Selwyn, who is opening Terminator: Genisys on July 2 and Mission: Impossible –Rogue Nation on July 30.
Selwyn continued, “However, November and December have three big tentpoles [Spectre, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 2 and Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens], which should pick things up again and make for a big summer. I don’t know whether it will deliver an all-time record but it must have a shot.”
According to Ord Minnett entertainment analyst Nicholas McGarrigle, receipts for the first 24 weekends of this year were up 18% on the prior year.
Gross B.O. revenues have gone up by an average of 5.3% over the last 20 years, 2.5% over the last 10 years and 3.1% over the last five, with declines in only four years, he reports.
McGarrigle is bullish about the second half, predicting growth in the mid-to-high teens. Looking at the longer-term prospects he says, “With studios producing a steady stream of blockbuster content catered towards the big screen format, we see strong B.O. supported for a number of years by a high volume of big budget releases.”