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2018 Year in Review and 2019 Preview

22/01/2019

22 01 2019 - Media release 2018 Year in Review and 2019 Preview

Top End Wedding, Bluey and Bad Mothers

Today the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA) published the finalised box office data for 2018, rounding out the series of metrics Screen Australia utilises to measure the health of the local screen industry. Australian films took $55.9 million at the local box office the best result since 2015 when Mad Max: Fury Road and The Dressmaker were released.

2018 was a stellar year for Australian content, with new local dramas on every free-to-air channel, Foxtel, Stan and Netflix. There were multiple break-out hits including Mystery Road, Underbelly Files: Chopper, Mr Inbetween and kids sensation Bluey, which were all fan favourites and commercially successful, said Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason.

For Australian films to finish the year with a 4.5% share of box office is remarkable considering our 92 titles were competing with 908 foreign films for cinema space. Landmark films were added to the Australian cinematic canon, including Ladies in Black and Sweet Country, and we saw the continued resurgence of the feature documentary format led by Gurrumul and Working Class Boy. Of the 92 Australian films in market in 2018, 63 were new titles.

In online, the Superwog series ended up amassing over 19 million views on YouTube alone. SBS and ABC in particular continued to champion the online original format, with stand-outs including Homecoming Queens and Deadlock.

DRIVERS OF SUCCESS The creation of Australian screen stories has benefited from bipartisan support from successive Australian Governments, including both direct finance for film, television, and online content from Screen Australia, as well as the Producer Offset tax incentive.

When you look at the 2018 AACTA Award winners, it's no accident that 10 out of the 11 best scripted and documentary categories were won by titles funded by Screen Australia, said Mason. Investment in the industry is driving the cultural and commercial rewards we now enjoy, and as a sector we must get better at helping viewers make the connection between their favourite new Aussie show and where the funds to make that program came from.

We also need to be more vocal about our impact beyond ratings, box office and clicks. For instance, Australia's screen industry is our nation's number one calling card internationally. Tourism Australia's 2018 Son of Dundee campaign was completely dependent on international recognition of our immense screen talent. Indeed the Screen Currency report found that our screen stories generate more international tourism spend than the Sydney Opera House. The output of our screen industry is much more than entertainment.

2018 also marked the 25th anniversary of Screen Australia's Indigenous Department, which has been behind iconic titles including Redfern Now and Samson & Delilah, plus recent fan favourites Sweet Country, the Mystery Road TV series and documentary Black Divaz. The Indigenous Department is the gold standard of what can be achieved when creators receive sustained funding to take charge of their own stories. We're adapting that model to also address the underutilisation of female talent and creators from diverse backgrounds through both our Gender Matters program and new development funding opportunities.

CHANGE & CHALLENGES The seismic changes in the global media industry have been evident in Australia, including CBS's purchase of Network Ten, the merger of Foxtel and Fox Sports, the merger of Nine and Fairfax and the Universal Pictures International takeover of theatrical marketing and distribution of Entertainment One (eOne) releases locally.

The competition for people's time and wallet is already fierce, and continues to grow, said Mason. The proliferation and availability of screen content is immense, and starkly apparent at the movie theatre where the number of films released in Australian cinemas has more than doubled in the past decade. Ten years ago top Australian free-to-air dramas could reasonably aim for over two million viewers on terrestrial TV, and now any show with more than one million would be considered a hit. When looking at the top 50 free-to-air titles of any genre, the trends vary by format, for instance news has also seen declines but sport is more cyclical.

However, viewing on catch-up services continues to grow, supplementing terrestrial viewing. For instance, the finale of Mystery Road had the highest average number of views for an episode of Australian drama across 28 days (233,000).

Concurrent with audience and media change, the cost to make content is rising. For instance, Screen Australia's 2017/18 Drama Report found the cost to make television drama has risen across most formats, including a 22% rise in just five years to make mini-series, now at $1.567 million average cost per hour.

Mason noted, We are now in a situation where there is exponential growth in the amount of content being made, but the cost to make that content is also growing, and there is no substantial new money in the local sector. As an industry we must be quick to find opportunity in this new media landscape, particularly the opening up of access to overseas audiences and hence foreign investors.

There is abundant proof the global market wants distinctly Australian stories like Picnic at Hanging Rock and Lion, and are just as interested in Australians making ambitious world stories like Mad Max: Fury Road, Cargo and Peter Rabbit.

We only need look to Every Cloud Production's global hit Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries to see what engaging with the global market can do. The latest series averaged 1.4 million viewers at home on the ABC, sold to over 200 territories overseas, landed a Netflix acquisition and will soon have
LINK: https://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/sa/media-centre/news/2019/01-22-201...
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