This is the fifteenth year that I have tracked and presented [on other media in the past] an annual round up of the international theatrical performance of Australian Feature Films. Here, we cover films released outside Australia or acquired in the period from January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022.
After 2 years of COVID delays, this is the year in which cinemas have endeavoured to reclaim their place in the film ecosphere, nonetheless battling the continued rise of streamers and the reluctance of senior audiences to return to regular cinema attendance.
In addition to theatrical releases, I will also mention certain titles that have bypassed theatrical and were released directly (day and date) or virtually directly to VOD and SVOD in the US and/or streamers worldwide or on pay TV only outside Australia. The number of these titles especially in the US is increasing. Unfortunately, there is still very little hard data readily available on the results of digital exploitation, despite the fact that for many Australian films, these new media outlets have become the only available entrée into the US and foreign markets. I have tried to note that release for each title.
The worldwide box office gap between major tent pole theatrical releases and micro theatrical releases of all English language titles – not just Australian films – continues to accelerate.
But some form of theatrical release, however limited (even via digital cinema), remains for many producers a hoped-for result, as it is still a significant driver of ancillary revenue – the ultimate all-media net result – particularly in territories where legislatively enforced or marketplace dictated windows currently curtail day and date ancillary release. But such a release is becoming harder to achieve.
In reviewing the results, it is worth recalling that in all these foreign territories, Australian films complete for screen space with both the US majors – just as we do in Australia – and with high profile local language titles as well.
In 2022, 22 Australian films received some level of international theatrical release – down from a record 33 in 2020, and 26 in 2015, but equal to the 22 in 2021. COVID had a significant impact.
It is likely that future years will see a further reduction in titles in international cinema release as a result of the increasing caution of acquisition executives as territory after territory looks to flat or diminishing cinema attendance figures; the collapse of the mid-budget market and the substantial reduction in box office for specialty and non-tentpole releases, along with the virtual disappearance of pre-sales in the A territories for the majority of the films Australian producers are packaging.
Readers should note that all box office figures quoted are in US dollars unless otherwise noted. The box office amounts cited do not themselves indicate the net return to the producer or the ultimate profitability of a title in a territory. For such analysis, other data, including distribution terms for the territory and media licensed, Minimum Guarantee (if any) and/or if the film was licensed on a flat or revenue share deal, the ad spend, the degree of cross collateralisation – all these metrics need to be factored in to get a net position. However, theatrical box office numbers and length of run do indicate an initial level of success and marketplace acceptance.
Let’s discuss the year’s most successful titles, in alphabetical order:
After She Died
This little thriller played in a number of territories. Filmadon released in Austria over 14 days on 125 screens grossing $12,131; Cine in Colombia on 25 screens over 14 days took $61,770. In Ecuador, it grossed $13,588 over a week, Vertigo in Spain took $235,766 on 555 screens over 63 days. Cathay in Singapore on 5 screens over 14 days took $17,104, Comcor in Germany on 83 screens over 7 days grossed $71,000. Gaumont in France took $1,100,000 over 14 days and Gulf in the UAE grossed $12,437 on 10 screens over 7 days.
An outstanding success for an unheralded B indie.
Oscilloscope gave this doco a 3 screen over 7 day release grossing $10,275. Essentially a promo for VOD etc…
Vox in the UAE released on 500 screens grossing $38,272 over 2 weeks. It went straight to streaming and VOD in Germany. A one screen US release in California took place in September. Grosses were not reported.
This Liam Neeson actioner had a wide release in most territories. Briarcliff released in the US on 2772 screens grossing $9,564,016 over 42 days. Metropolitan/Miramax released in France on 295 screens grossing $3,600,000 over 28 days. Zima in Mexico did $597,677 over 7 days. Dutchfilm in the Netherlands did $959,813 on 97 screens over 21 days; NOS in Portugal grossed $140,458 on 366 screens over 21 days and Rialto in NZ did NZ$152,089 on 65 screens over 35 days.
Other territories licensed included Japan (Klockworx), Middle East (Eagle), Canada (CWS), Latin America (California), Italy (Notorious) and UK (Signature).
There is definitely a law of diminishing returns on these Liam Neeson titles but Blacklight still turned out to be, after Elvis, our most successful 2022 export. And it did surprisingly well on Vudu and other VOD platforms in the US in March.
Vertical released in the US and other territories including the UAE, Portugal and Croatia. Sky acquired UK, Scandinavia and Poland.
Gravitas, who have been stockpiling a number of Australian films in 2021 and 2022 for US release, picked this title up. Expect a micro release and VOD.
Bosch & Rockit
Gravitas also picked this title up for the US, retitling it “Ocean Boy”. No known release dates as yet.
The Drover’s Wife – the Legend of Molly Johnson
Small distributor Modern Films released on 37 screens in the UK over 1 week and grossed a disappointing $13,848. Goldwyn bought the US for primarily a digital release. Other territories licensed include Greece (Spentzos), Indonesia (Falcon), Latin America (Encripta) and Bulgaria (Film Vision).
Australia’s most successful international release in 2022 with a total US gross of $151,040,048 and an international gross (including Australia) of $135,000,000. The worldwide Warner machine pushed exceptional figures in most territories. A sampling is listed below.
|Country||Released By||Days in Release||Screens||Gross (US$)|
|New Zealand||WB – Uni||175||NZ $4,876,771|
The film did not release due to COVID in China nor in Russia due to Ukraine restrictions.
Elvis performed a little less well than The Great Gatsby internationally but better than Moulin Rouge.
We need at least one breakout title per year from Australia to keep our commercial profile up and Elvis was that picture in 2022.
Girl At The Window
Paradiso released in Russia on 397 screens over 28 days grossing $144,755. Blue Fox sold to XYZ Films for the US and then sold it to Tubi. Telepool in Germany retitled it “The Clockwork Killer” and it went straight to streaming.
Screen Media bought the US and released on 83 screens over 14 days grossing $93,968. Adler released in Italy on 159 screens taking $25,284 over 7 days. Disappointing. Madman released in NZ grossing NZ$7,891 over 28 days. Exponentia in Russia took $58,115 on 88 screens over 28 days. Best in Poland grossed $30,830.
How To Please A Woman
Madman released in NZ grossing NZ$316,901 over 105 days on 75 screens. In the Czech Republic it grossed $8,145; Hungary $32,1111 and Lithuania $36,334. Sky took it for the UK. There was a token 2 screen release in the US in California in July.
Goldwyn picked up the US. Other sales included Bohemia in the UK, MT Trading in Germany and Lucky Days for Scandinavia.
Blue Fox acquired international and US rights and released the title to streaming in December. Wild Bunch took Germany for streaming.
Moon Rock For Monday
Cinedigm acquired US for streaming. Sales included Encripta for Latin America, Land Film in Germany, Youngin in Japan and South Korea. All were for streaming.
Picturehouse released in the UK on 59 screens over 7 days for an anaemic $50,707. Ad Vitam took France. Slovenia grossed $1,157; Portugal $3,417. Madman in NZ took NZ$557. IFC took the US and released day and date with streamer AMC Plus.
Screen Media acquired US rights. Vertical 360 in Italy grossed $223,348. Rialto NZ grossed NZ$34,706 on 47 screens over 14 days. Russia took $1,076,415 on 1228 screens over 14 days and Constantin did $34,268 on 66 screens over 7 days.
Released in Russia and grossed $160,686 and in Colombia where it took $67,362.
The Reef: Stalked
Capella in Russia grossed an extraordinary $1,281,561 on 1398 screens over 14 days. Signature released in the UK.
Roadshow grossed NZ$90,201 on 21 screens. Gravitas have acquired US rights.
A worldwide Netflix deal achieved high viewing numbers.
Three Thousand Years Of Longing
A major disappointment in all territories despite its Cannes profile. Russia through Volga was the best territory with $3,671,371 followed by France with $1,283,554 through Miramax. Taiwan grossed $475,528 and Germany struggled with $468,754 through Leone. Entertainment in the UK grossed $755,162 on 546 screens over 21 days and MGM – UA on 2436 screens in the US only managed $7,536,781. The best indie distributors in the world couldn’t make this film work.
XYZ acquired US rights to the film under their new label.
2022 was an OK year for Australian product internationally. Elvis led the pack but the two other titles that we would have expected to give us a second international breakout Blacklight and Three Thousand Years Of Longing did not perform strongly enough. We continue to make waves in New Zealand with our mainstream product and US distributors like Goldwyn, Gravitas, IFC etc continue to buy. Russia has been a breakout given the absence of US titles in the market.
Looking ahead to 2023
It looks like Furiosa will not release until 2024 so our 2023 expectations will have to rely on Force Of Nature which IFC have acquired; Blueback which Quiver are handling and possibly The Moogai and Talk To Me on the thriller front and 200% Wolf in family animation.
No breakout titles so far.
Melbourne born Antony I. Ginnane has produced or executive produced 73 feature films, MOWs, miniseries and TV series over 50 years including Patrick, High Tide, The Lighthorsemen, Screamers, Last Dance and most recently (in partnership with Kris Wyld) the TV series Pulse for ABC-TV, Never Too Late with James Cromwell and Jacki Weaver. His latest feature The Girl At The Window with Radha Mitchell released in 2022. The Unusual Suspects, his first book, was published by Currency Press in 2015.