Australians have the ability to make great films – no one’s disputing that. From Satellite Boy to The Infinite Man, our films are critically acclaimed. So why is no one watching them – even Australians themselves?
In 2014, even after a series of epic homegrown movies were released, Australian films accounted for less than 2 per cent of the domestic box office. And it doesn't seem like much has changed.
It’s not a stretch to say that Aussies are shying away from our own films in the cinema. And if we’re not watching them, can we really expect anyone else to be? Because in overseas markets, our biggest movies are treated the same way they are here – with a lack of interest.
For a nation that’s so vehemently supportive of everything Australian-made, why can’t we seem to get onboard with great Aussie cinema? Here are a few possibilities.
We assume they’re too dark
There’s a stigma around Australian films being dark and depressing, but is there any truth to it? Yes, many of our biggest films would suggest we err on the side of sombre, but it doesn’t mean Aussies onlymake dark films. In this country, we create about 30 feature films a year – and they don’t all fall into the same bucket.
Last year we released Terror Nullius, a satirical work that borders on documentary and speculative fiction, and Swinging Safari,a comedy drama with a star-studded cast including Guy Pearce and Kylie Minogue.
The problem is, you probably haven’t even heard of them – which brings us to our next point.
We don’t really hear about them
A common complaint is that we don’t really knowabout Aussie films in Australia.
The issue here is that the vast majority of Australian films get a limited release, which basically means a smaller budget for promotion, advertising and marketing.
And with big Hollywood blockbusters taking out global campaigns to promote the movie worldwide, it’s no wonder the humble Australian film gets drowned out.
We pre-judge them as stereotypical
Our most famous films, especially in the overseas market, are full of ocker Aussie stereotypes – and Australians aren’t here for it. Think Crocodile Dundee, Red Dogand even Wolf Creek.
The truth is, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that these make up only a small portion of the diverse films Aussies make every year.
There’s no star power to pull the crowds in
In a Hollywood-obsessed society, most Australian films just don’t have the same star power as big Hollywood blockbusters.
Big names can be a major drawcard in pulling audiences in, and while Aussies have incredible talent on our shores, we can’t compete when it comes to red-carpet star power.
They’re knocked by critics
You wouldn’t see a movie that got bad-average reviews, right? Neither does the rest of Australia. Australian critics tend to knock Australian filmmaking. Margaret Pomeranz, perhaps one of Australia’s most well-known film critics, says the Australian press is quick to pick up and spread bad reviews – about local films in particular.
To hear more around this topic, tune into the latest episode of The Few Who Do: two hosts, one problem, two possibilities. Listen to it here: https://www.sbs.com.au/programs/podcastcollection/few-who-do