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All drama production
Focus on foreign

Key data on foreign drama production in Australia, 1994/95–2020/21

Next update December 2022


Production activity: Foreign shoot | Foreign features | Foreign TV drama | Foreign online drama | Foreign PDV-only | Proportions of foreign production spend


Production activity: Foreign shoot

Spending in Australia by foreign drama productions, particularly features, had been growing since the late 1990s, peaking in 2003/04, when $279 million was spent here. A stronger Australian dollar had a significant impact on foreign productions choosing to shoot in Australia, with historically low foreign expenditure in years 2008/09 and 2011/12. As the dollar fell, foreign productions began returning and expenditure, on average, increased from 2012/13, although 2017/18 was similarly affected by a stronger dollar.

In 2008/09, foreign drama spending dropped to its lowest level on record – just $3 million – with foreign feature activity restricted to just six Indian titles. This was the first time on record that no US feature production has taken place here.

A new record was set in 2020/21, when foreign shoot expenditure reached $793 million, making up 76 per cent of total foreign spend. A combination of the Australian dollar, comparitively low rates of COVID-19 and various incentives offered by federal, state and territory governments attracted a wide range of higher-budget, US-studio titles.

For detailed data, see Feature film production and TV drama production.

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Features

Since 1990, 149 foreign features have been shot in Australia, with 52 per cent originating from North America. Indian features accounted for 25 per cent with the remaining 23 per cent originating from predominantly Asian countries including Japan, China, Nepal, South Korea and Thailand. 

The rolling five-year average increased steadily, from two foreign features in the early nineties to seven in the mid-2000s. Over the last 10 years, the rolling five-year average has fluctuated between six and seven. 

There were three foreign features shot in Australia in the 2020/21.

For detailed data of domestic and foreign features, see Titles produced each year since 1997/98.

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TV drama

Of the 142 foreign TV dramas shot in Australia since 1990/91, 70 per cent have originated from North America. The remaining 30 per cent is split between Asian countries (16 per cent), and Europe and the United Kingdom (14 per cent).

The rolling five-year average increased steadily, from five foreign titles in the early-1990s to ten in the early-2000s. Over the last 14 years, the rolling five-year average has decreased and fluctuates between two and three.

There were two foreign TV dramas shot in Australia in the 2020/21.

For detailed data of domestic and foreign TV drama titles, see:

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Online drama

Since 2019/20, there have been six foreign online drama titles shot in Australia, all originating from North America.

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Production activity: Foreign PDV-only

The following information relates to foreign productions where only post, digital and visual effects (PDV) work is carried out in Australia. Since 2006/07, the majority of PDV-only work has come from US productions.

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Foreign production as a proportion of total production

Over the last 27 years, foreign productions have accounted for 31 per cent of spending in Australia, with features making up the majority.

In 2020/21, foreign expenditure, as a proportion of total Australian spend, was 54 per cent, the second highest on record.

For detailed data, see Feature film production and TV drama production.

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