Attending the cinema is a popular social activity. In Australia, an average of 69% of people attend the cinema at least once per year (Screen Australia 2012). But how many of these people are watching content created locally? Australian films are struggling in their local market, according to Papadopoulos, but why? Verhoeven argues that there isn’t enough evidence to suggest Australians aren’t going to see local films at the cinema because they dislike them. She believes there are many factors that could contribute to this lack of viewing, such as marketing techniques and timing (2014).
Although I agree that marketing and timing are major factors that can affect the success of films at the cinema, I believe there are obvious feelings people have towards Australian films that can’t be ignored. Unfortunately for the Australian film industry, their local audience seems to have a rather negative view of their productions as a whole. I know this because my partner is one of those audience members. However he is not the only one, I know several people who don’t value Australian films at the same rate as ones that originate from the USA or UK.
To understand the reasoning behind this aversion towards Australian films, I asked my partner exactly why he thought so negatively of them. His main reasons were based on his experiences with Australian films he has watched in the past. He said they felt cheap and the acting wasn’t at a very high standard. He said these are the reasons he avoids Australian films. He admitted that American films can sometimes be like this as well, but he believed this occurred a lot less often than with Australian films.
I was arguing with him about the quality of Australian films, and said that not all of them could be as bad as he thought. As a joke he replied:
“yeah, only 93.4% of them are that bad, and I can’t be bothered to go looking for the good ones.”
Now, if you are a big fan of Australian films, you’re probably really disliking my partner right now. But before you start writing hateful comments, I think its worth noting that a large portion of the Australian population is likely to have the same opinion. I base this on recent Australian box office earnings. For example, the Australian film ‘These Final Hours‘ earned only $206,727 in Australian box offices over its first weekend in cinemas. The producers were expecting over $1 million based on good responses to marketing. This could not compare to the earnings of ‘Lucy‘ ($4.6m) and ‘Hercules‘ ($1.4m) in that weekend, both of which had already been out for several weeks (mUmBRELLA 2014). Australians are choosing American films over Australian films every day, and this general assumption that all Australian films are cheap and therefore a lower quality is really hurting Australian film production. In this case, the Australian public was definitely mistaken. On IMDb (Internet Movie Database) ‘These Final Hours’ was rated at 7.2 out of 10. This was much higher than both ‘Lucy’, rated 6.6, and ‘Hercules’, rated 6.4 (IMDb 2014). Rotten Tomatoes (often considered a more reliable rating system) rated ‘These Final Hours’ even higher than IMDb.
As a marketing student I can’t help suggesting that the entire Australian film industry needs to be rebranded for Australians to change their negative connotations with Australian films.
Maddox, G 2014, Not the end of the world, but box office slump of These Final Hours sparks soul searching, Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/not-the-end-of-the-world-but-box-office-slump-of-these-final-hours-sparks-soul-searching-20140806-100oc7.html#ixzz3EL7pvMEk>.
mUmBRELLA 2014, Aussie film These Final Hours fails to find an audience on opening weekend, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://mumbrella.com.au/aussie-film-these-final-hours-fails-to-find-audience-242637>.
news.com.au 2014, Local audiences snub Australian filmmakers yet Hollywood loves them, viewed 25 September 2014, <http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/movies/local-audiences-snub-australian-filmmakers-yet-hollywood-loves-them/story-fnk853hr-1227057559133>.
Papadopoulos, T 2014, An Aussie Film Decline? The Reasons are a Dog’s Breakfast, Crikey, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://dailyreview.crikey.com.au/an-aussie-film-decline-the-reasons-are-a-dogs-breakfast/12637>.
Screen Australia 2014, Percentage of people who had been to the cinema in the last 12 months, and average number of visits, 1974–2012, Australian Government, viewed 26 September 2014, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/wcrmattend.aspx>.