Australia and New Zealand see box office drop in 2017

Day and Date Down Under

The move to digital projection at cinemas has led to a rise in the number of films released. In Australia, an average of more than 12 films were released every week to cinemas in 2017, with the total number of films screened for the year at 651. This means that it is harder than ever for a single film to get noticed and perform to its full potential. Despite more films being released, box office dropped in both Australia and New Zealand in 2017. The Kiwi box office total dropped from NZ$207 million in 2016 to NZ$190 million last year. Australia recorded a 4.6% drop from A$1.259 billion down to A$1.201 billion at the box office.

Top Australian film for the year was Lion, with a total local box office of A$29.5 million. Despite total box office dropping, the result for Australian films was a major improvement. In 2016, local films only took 1.9% of total box office. Led by Lion plus Red Dog: True Blue, Jasper Jones, Dance Academy and more, the local take jumped in 2017 to 4.1% of the total cinema takings. The increase in films released for the year has led to an increase in older patrons, a trend that has also been noted in the U.S. and U.K. 

The new Kiwi film Broken opened at number one at the NZ box office on Feb. 1. An independent film, it focuses on a gang member who straightens out his life and concentrates on raising his daughter. When the daughter is killed by a rival gang, he must make some major life decisions. Written and directed by Tarry Mortlock and based on a true story made popular in the novel Tarore and Her Book, the film stars Wayne Hapi and an impressive cast of amateur actors.

A major new retail and hotel development is planned for the outskirts of New Plymouth in the north island of New Zealand. The complex, which has yet to get council approval, will house a six-screen cinema and a 75-room hotel, plus food outlets and retail stores.

Caloundra, on Australia's Sunshine Coast in Queensland, is set to get a new six-screen cinema complex as part of the expansion of Stockland's Caloundra Shopping Centre. A number of houses will be demolished to double the size of the shopping centre. Included in the new development will also be a tavern, a range of specialty retail stores and extra parking.

We have reported on a large number of new cinemas in Australia in the last year. This is expected to increase the number of screens in Australia by 10 to 15%, and a similar increase is expected in New Zealand. Let's hope that the box office rebounds this year, or many complexes will be facing a drop in revenue.

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