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2016 Year in Review and 2017 Preview


23 01 2017 - Media release 2016 Year in Review and 2017 Preview


Today the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA) released the finalised 2016 box offices figures, confirming Hacksaw Ridge was the highest earning Australian film, taking $8.2m in the calendar year. As of 23 January 2017, Rentrak reports the film has taken $205m globally, including an incredible $77m in China alone. Australian films took $24m at the local box office in 2016, equating to a 3.8% three-year rolling average share, below Screen Australia's stretch target of 4.5% - a result which was expected in a year that included international juggernauts like Finding Dory and Star Wars.

Along with Hacksaw Ridge, summer has proved a busy time for Australian film, with RED DOG: True Blue bringing in $6.9m locally as of 23 January 2017. Lion, which has already made $28m overseas since premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, earned $748,805 on its opening day alone (19 January 2017) in Australia and has become the fifth highest earning opening weekend Australian film at the local box office, taking more than $5m.

The popularity and critical success of Australian screen content both locally and overseas is a tribute to the exceptional talent of our local industry which we now know is worth $3 billion a year, said Graeme Mason, CEO of Screen Australia.

The mix of stories told demonstrates how globally-facing our industry has become, with Australians just as capable of telling a blockbuster war drama like Hacksaw Ridge as an offbeat comedy like Girl Asleep. It's also becoming common that even our smaller films will reach an overseas audience, such as The Daughter which played at an outstanding five international festivals, including Venice and Toronto, came in third at the local box office (despite opening on just 52 screens), and ended up taking 29% of its 2016 box office overseas.

Undoubtedly timing played a big part in 2016's box office result, with Lion being released overseas before it was released in Australia and RED DOG: True Blue only in cinemas for six days in 2016. The fact Lion went to number one on its first day in Australian cinemas is a fantastic result, kicking off a year that includes hotly anticipated titles like Jasper Jones and Simon Baker's directorial debut in Breath.

Also noteworthy is that of the 12 documentaries released in 2016, three now rank in the top 10 grossing Australian documentaries (excluding IMAX) of all time - Sherpa, Embrace and Chasing Asylum, all directed by women.

2017 is on track to be a busy year for Australian film with titles including Jasper Jones, Breath, Sweet Country, Three Summers, Cargo, Flammable Children, The Nightingale, Hotel Mumbai and Jennifer Peedom's (Sherpa) new documentary Mountain all expected to hit cinemas. Also due for release is documentary Casting JonBenet and feature film Berlin Syndrome, which have both recently been acquired by Netflix, and are among the Australian selections for the prestigious Sundance Film Festival this month, with Casting JonBenet also screening at Berlin International Film Festival in February.


Combined 28-day consolidated TV ratings figures for metropolitan and regional areas reported by OzTAM and RegionalTAM show the five highest rating Australian dramas on free-to-air television for 2016 each attracted an average of 1.5 million viewers or more across the entire series. These included target="_blank"Molly (Seven) with an audience of almost 3 million (metro, 2 million), followed by Wanted (Seven) at 1.9m (metro, 1.2m), The Doctor Blake Mysteries series 4 (ABC) at 1.7m (metro, 1.1m), The Secret Daughter (Seven) at 1.6m (metro, 1m) and Doctor Doctor (Nine) attracting 1.5 million viewers (metro,965,000).

At a time when there has never been more choice available across free-to-air, catch-up platforms, subscription television and streaming services, the fact that each of the top five Australian television dramas were watched by at least 1.5 million people is an exceptional result, said Graeme Mason. Despite exponential growth in the volume and availability of overseas content, the appetite for home-grown stories is only increasing.

Following a record year for Australian television drama in 2015-16, which saw 58 titles in production, audiences can look forward to an abundance of Australian shows in 2017. In this year's crop there will be a host of biopics including Hoges: The Paul Hogan Story (Seven), Blue Murder: Killer Cop (Seven), House of Bond (Nine) and as yet untitled works on Olivia Newton John (Seven) and Shane Warne (Seven). The Wrong Girl (Ten), The Secret Daughter (Seven), Cleverman (ABC), The Family Law (SBS) and Top of the Lake (Foxtel) will all make welcome returns with second seasons, and the iconic Wake in Fright (Ten) and Picnic at Hanging Rock (Foxtel) will be reimagined for television. Hotly anticipated documentaries including Ice Wars (ABC), Filthy Rich and Homeless (SBS) and My Year 12 Life (ABC) will also hit screens.


Digital originals continue to be core to Screen Australia's business with the likes of Aunty Donna's 1999 becoming Skip Ahead's most-viewed project ever with almost 2.4 million views. Several digital brands saw their work transferred to television in 2016, including The Katering Show season 2 (the most watched ABC iview original ever), Starting From Now and Wizards of Aus.

Production values also continue to increase, with comedies like Little Acorns, Bruce, Fancy Boy and Wham Bam Thank You Ma'am being stand-outs in 2016, while Australian online talent including The Racka Racka (3.5 million subscribers) and SketchShe (850,000 subscribers) forge global careers.

Although the four-year Multiplatform Fund that has fuelled our digital content to date ends in June 2017, we are
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