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Movie exec: ‘IP protection failure threatens film future’

January 22, 2016

By Colin Mann

In the wake of figures indicating that 2015 was the most successful year ever at the Australian cinema box office, a senior industry executive has warned of the threat of piracy to the future of filmed entertainment.

Findings from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia (MPDAA) show a 14 per cent increase from 2014 saw the 2015 box office CUME (cumulative audience) close at A$1,226,315,433 (€7794m) smashing the previous high of A$1,128,498 in 2010.

According to the MPDAA the result is testament to the diverse line up of great films that drew audiences into cinemas and proved that the cinema going experience is still one of the most popular forms of entertainment in Australia, even in the face of an ever-increasing choice of out-of-home leisure options.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens was indeed a force to be reckoned with, closing 2015 at A$62.78 million after only two weeks in cinemas and breaking several box office records around the world.

Jurassic World ($52.94 million) and Fast and Furious 7 (A$43.34 million) took the #2 and #3 slots in the top 10 films for the year, followed by Avengers: The Age of Ultron (A$40.11 million).

Spectre (A$34.6 million) demonstrated the enduring strength of the iconic Bond franchise while Minions (A$32.9 million) and Inside Out (A$31.15 million) drew young and young-at-heart Australians into cinemas. The other top performing films of the year were the final instalment of The Hunger Games franchise Mockingjay Part 2 (A$29 million), Pitch Perfect 2(A$28.1 million) and The Martian (A$27.4 million).

Australian films enjoyed their best-ever year at the box office, sailing past the 2001 record of A$63.4 million and taking a remarkable A$88 million in box office revenue (7.18 per cent share).

Some of the films playing a part in this achievement were Mad Max: Fury Road (A$21.7 million), and The Water Diviner (A$10.18 million in 2015/A$15.8 million CUME). The Dressmaker grossed A$18.6 million in 2015 and is still playing and likely to exceed A$20 million. That Sugar Film took over A$1.7 million to become the highest grossing Australian documentary (excluding IMAX films).

Jo Bladen, Chair of the MPDAA described 2015 as a “remarkable” year. “Audiences flocked to the cinema in record numbers to enjoy a range of Australian and international films that featured quality storytelling and engaging, entertaining filmmaking. The year was capped off with the record-breaking release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which is now the second highest-grossing film of all time in Australia and still going, demonstrating the power of the in-cinema, big screen experience,” she declared.

“The fight against piracy is now more important than ever, and the distribution and exhibition communities continue to support efforts to protect creative intellectual property. The failure to enact strong copyright protections could ultimately inhibit the future of filmed entertainment. As we look ahead, we are thrilled that exhibitors continue to enhance the cinema experience through luxury options and state-of-the-art technology. With an incredible line-up of exciting films in 2016, we look forward to another great year at the movies.”

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