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All drama production
Focus on foreign

Key data on foreign feature and TV drama production in Australia, 1994/95–2016/17

Next update March 2019

Production activity: Foreign shoot | Sources of production | Foreign PDV-only | Titles | 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. Projects in that year included seven features with several high-budget titles – Star Wars: Episode III, Son of the Mask and Stealth. In 2005/06, spending by foreign dramas dropped to $49 million but increased in the following year to $134 million, and again in 2007/08 to $238 million (due, in large part, to a record TV drama spend of $134 million by a single TV drama title, the mini-series The Pacific). 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, which spent less than a fifth of their budgets in Australia (the first time on record that no US feature production has taken place here).

In 2016/17, expenditure in Australia by foreign titles was the highest on record with $557 million spent on nine titles. Six features accounted for $521 million with TV drama making up the remaining $36 million.

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


Sources of production


Of the 126 foreign features made in Australia since 1990, 64 (51 per cent) originated from companies in the US, 36 (29 per cent) from India, six (5 per cent) from Japan, five from China (4 per cent), three from the UK (2 per cent), two (2 per cent) from Hong Kong, and one each from Germany, Korea, Pakistan, Thailand, the Netherlands, Nepal, Singapore and South Korea. The number of foreign features made in Australia has been increasing, with 27 made during the 1990s and 61 in the following 10 years. However, foreign feature activity dropped significantly in 2008/09. The 61 foreign features made between 2000/01 and 2009/10 spent over $1.3 billion dollars in Australia. There were 38 foreign features shot in Australia in the last seven financial years – two in 2010/11, three in 2011/12, six in 2012/13. nine in 2013/14, five in 2014/15, seven in 2015/16 and six in 2016/17.

TV drama

Of the 132 foreign TV dramas made in Australia since 1990, 91 (68 per cent) originated from the US, 11 (8 per cent) from the UK, seven (5 per cent) from Germany, five (4 per cent) from Japan, four (3 per cent from China, three (2 per cent) Korea, two each (2 per cent) from Canada, India and Sri Lanka, and one each from Greece, Belgium, the Philippines, France and Thailand. In contrast to features, the number of foreign TV dramas made in Australia has been relatively steady, with 64 made during the 1990s and 52 made in the following 10 years. The 52 foreign TV dramas made during 2000/01 to 2009/10 spent $389 million in Australia. There were 17 foreign TV dramas made in the last six financial years – two in 2010/11, five in 2011/12, two in 2012/3, two in 2013/14, one in 2014/15, two in 2015/16 and three in 2016/17.


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.


Foreign titles are included in the production lists:


TV drama:


Foreign production as a proportion of total production

Foreign productions had been accounting for an increasing proportion of feature spending in Australia from the late 1990s, reaching a peak of 73 per cent in 2004/05. This dropped to 17 per cent in 2005/06 and has remained below 40 per cent since then. In 2008/09, it dropped dramatically to less than one per cent, with no US feature activity that year.

Spending in Australia by foreign TV drama productions reached an all-time high of 33 per cent in 2007/08, due largely to the high-budget mini-series The Pacific.

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