The Australian B.O. dropped by 2.28% to a still healthy $1.074 billion in 2014 but the stats mask a worrying trend: the shrinking cinema audience.

Ticket sales have fallen sharply since the 2010 peak when the estimated total was 92 million. Based on an average price of $13.68, the number of admissions declined to 78.5 million last year.

That compares with around 82 million in 2013 when the average price was $13.41, and 85 million in 2011.

Distributors argue 2014 was a strong year, especially given the postponement of Fast & Furious 7 and the absence of a Pixar title (this year there’s Inside Out).

“Up against the comparable US and UK market results, the Australian market has performed well and shown great resilience," MPDAA chairman Stephen Basil-Jones tells IF.

“The business is terrifically healthy in the face of challenges such as piracy, the quality of TV drama and the popularity of BoxSets and some economic sensitivity to ticket prices.”

But Basil-Jones acknowledges, “We are seeing some age groups, particularly the older set, going to the cinema more often while the numbers are falling elsewhere, especially teenage males. The young male audience is driven by blockbusters and the mid-range films which used to gross $5 million- $8 million are falling away.

“As an industry we do need to do some more work and analysis to get those people back to cinemas more often.”

The 39 Australian films released in 2014 (versus 26 in 2013) plus holdovers collectively grossed $26.1 million, a market share of 2.43%. That’s down from 3.51% in 2013 and 4.25% in 2012.

However Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner and Rob Connolly’s Paper Planes point to a possible rebound in Australian cinema. Launched on Boxing Day, Crowe’s drama raked in $5.7 million in its first six days to rank as the highest-grossing local title last year and so far has amassed $13.4 million.

Resonating strongly with kids and families, Paper Planes has collected $2.8 million in six days, including $655,000 on Tuesday, the No. 1 film in the market, taking nearly $200,000 more than Taken 3, which is in its second week.

The top title in 2014 was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1 with $32.8 million, followed by The Lego Movie ($29.8 million), Transformers: Age of Extinction ($26.9 million), Gone Girl ($26.8 million), How to Train Your Dragon 2 ($26.7 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy ($26.7 million).

Rounding out the top 10 were Frozen ($25.67 million), The Wolf of Wall Street ($23.3 million), the first R-rated film to rank in the top 10 since Basic Instinct way back in 1992, 22 Jump Street ($22.7 million) and X-Men: Days of Future Past ($22.6 million).

As Basil-Jones noted, film piracy is a significant threat to the cinema business. The IP Awareness Foundation’s 2014 research showed that piracy amongst adults is increasing and that around one in four Australians aged 12 – 64 accesses infringing film and TV content from pirate websites.

Australian distributors and exhibitors have joined other content creators and copyright owners in urging the government to enact legislation that protects copyright, and have supported education programs that promote an understanding of the impact of copyright infringement on the creative industries.

Ever the optimist, Basil-Jones says, “2015 is shaping up to be one of the biggest and most exciting years in the film industry with the most formidable line-up seen for some time.”

Stats from the MPDAA:


2014 Box Office – $1,074,565,480
-2.28 on last year ($1,099,615,801)
Highest year on record was 2010 – $1,128,498,000

505 Films released in 2014 (421 in 2013) (421 in 2012)

39 films released in 2014 (26 in 2013) (27 in 2012)

$13.68 in 2014 ($13.41 in 2013) ($13.10 in 2012)


2041 screens in 2014 (2057 in 2013) (1991 in 2012)
489 theatres in 2014 (486 in 2013) (478 in 2012)
918 3D Screens in 2014 (916 in 2013)


37 countries in 2014 (26 in 2013)

87 in 2014 (75 in 2013)
13 in 2014 (10 in 2013)
Hong Kong
13 in 2014 (8 in 2013)

Genre Films Released

2014 Box Office 2013 Box Office
Action 86 387,134,000 73 323,347,000
Adventure 12 36,533,000 13 89,200,000
Animated 23 127,867,000 18 172,991,000
Biography 14 17,252,000 8 8,322,000
Broadcast 14 124,672 N/a N/a
Comedy 99 169,118,000 82 159,844,000
Crime 9 26,610,000 15 33,933,000
Dance Nil Nil 1 241,000
Doco 44 3,661,000 38 8,723,000
Drama 110 169,112,000 96 152,935,000
Family 7 26,277,000 1 1,220,000
Fantasy 3 2,987,000 3 16,481,000
Horror 10 11,288,000 12 11,690,000
Live 53 4,711,000 35 3,552,000
Music/ Musical 2 1,127,000 2 81,000
Mystery 1 1,124,000 1 275,000
Romance 6 747,000 8 18,185,000
Sci-fi 2 21,314,000 3 24,028,000
Thriller 8 12,333,000 12 29,906,000
War 1 9,000 Nil Nil


2014 2013 2012

R 7 9 5

MA 104 104 109

M 220 187 158

PG 70 61 68

G 24 21 29

OTHER (EX.) 80 39 52

TOTALS 505 421 421


Join the Conversation


  1. Interesting figures. What’s also interesting is that THR reports today that the average ticket price in the US ‘jumped’ to $8.17, still 40% cheaper than Australia. Also interesting is that, anecdotally, the busiest cinemas have an entry price significantly lower than their competitors and that those competitors fare best on their ‘cheap ticket’ nights. In an era when exhibitors are up against nil cost pirated entertainment, it seems the obvious place to look at attracting customers back to theatres is rennovating the pricing model. If a half price ticket attracts 3x as many patrons, surely it’s a no-brainer.

  2. I don’t think it’s time to hit the panic button just yet. The U.S. were off 5.21% year on year and, frankly, had Fast & The Furious 7 released when it was supposed to, it would’ve brought $20m into the box office, captured the teen males that we missed (ref: SBJ’s comment) and we probably would’ve come in like for like.
    Add to that this year will wind up being one of cinemas biggest years on record with The Avengers 2, Fast & Furious 7, Jurassic World, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part Two, Fifty Shades Of Grey, Insurgent, Mad Max: Fury Road, Tomorrowland, San Andreas, Monster Trucks, Entourage, Ted 2, Terminator: Genisys, Minions, Ant-Man, Pan, Pixels, The Fantastic Four, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Maze Runner 2, Everest, Hotel Transylvania 2, The Good Dinosaur, Mission: Impossible 5 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

    And the majority of those are the target market that just weren’t catered for strongly in 2014.

  3. Shrinking audiences is a sign of the times. Not a sign of fluctuation in the general scheme of things, but a true drop in the numbers of human beings interested in getting off their backsides and going to the cinema.
    This has been written on the wall for years, but only now do wee begin to se the proof of the predictions of yore.

    The cinema has been ripped off for decades by the bean counters and the so called entrepreneurs who run the venues and the art baggers who control the means of production.

    As the internet improves its game and the pre recorded market gets it’s act together, the cinema faces the demise that struck the theatres in the days when television and film ruled the roost.

    Cinema must stop lording it over the public and the film makers and start to offer the public something more than an air conditioned lounge with a big screen and a supply of pop corn, and ice creams which are ever cheapening in quality but increasing in cost.

    Cinemas must wake up to themselves and the trend and start giving the public what the theatre once gave them, which is an experience worth the effort of dressing up and going out to a communal space where dreams are realised, where good stories and entertaining presentations are provided, and the family can laugh and cry together.

    Sound airy fairy? I have no doubt that it does to a pack of money rakers, who have lost the sense of theatre, or who perhaps never had it beyond counting the BO.

  4. Ticket prices have some affect, plus time factor and transport. I often wait until a film is released on DVD. To go to see a film it costs my partner and I,$40.00 at the art house cinema. For that price we get a movie on DVD plus change and we can watch the film whenever we want to. Some people like us are time poor as well. We work long hours and I work 12 hour night shifts.

  5. Not only is the ticket price prohibitive but the price & quality of the near poisonous & tasteless non food, see artificial chocolate etc, plus the cost of parking the car or taxi fares is absurd when anyone can download for free. It’s not rocket science.

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