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Proportion of Australian feature films achieving cinema release

Next update April 2017

The cinema release of a feature film continues to be important to its overall success. The initial release period, along with the marketing and advertising campaign that accompanies it, and the response from both critics and audiences, will often greatly influence the value of the feature in other media and in other territories around the world. This remains the case despite the increasing contributions to revenue of other media, such as DVD, as well as shorter initial release periods.

Of the 995 Australian and co-production features produced between July 1980 and June 2014, 73 per cent were released in Australian cinemas by January 2016.

On an annual basis, the proportion of features achieving theatrical release ranges from 58 per cent (for features produced in 1987/88) to 96 per cent (for 2001/02 productions). The years where more than 80 per cent of the features produced have achieved Australian theatrical release are:

  • 1980/81 (90 per cent)
  • 1982/83 and 1990/91 (81 per cent each)
  • 1995/96 (87 per cent)
  • 1996/97 (85 per cent)
  • 2001/02 (96 per cent)
  • 2002/03 (89 per cent)
  • 2012/13 (83 per cent)

Titles that fail to obtain a theatrical release are mainly low-budget features hoping to secure a distributor on completion. By contrast, 244 (89 per cent) of the 275 features made between 1988/89 and 2007/08 that were funded by Screen Australia and its former agencies (the Film Finance Corporation and the Australian Film Commission) have achieved theatrical release – a high production-to-release ratio.

Of the 320 Australian and co-production features made between 2003 and 2013, 229 (72 per cent) had been released in Australia by January 2015. This compares favourably with the UK, were 598 (28 per cent) of 2,144 UK films certified between 2003 and 2013 had been theatrically released in the UK and the Republic of Ireland within two years of principal photography, according to the BFI Statistical Yearbook 2016.

Between 2008/09 and  2013/14, 116 Australian and co-production feature films had been produced. Of these, 115 (69 per cent) had been released in Australia by January 2016.

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