2012 – Welcome Back Mainstream Australian Cinema – We’ve Missed You!! (Aza’s Had A Brainfart)

You know Lowdowners, being an old cinema dawg that I am… No No, it’s true, I am, just ask my mum…. I never thought that i’d be as passionate about local content as I am. I was born and bred on a steady diet of Hollywood films when I was a kid and the occasional Aussie one would pop up which all culminated in the early nineties when we hit that golden run of MURIEL’S WEDDING, THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, STRICTLY BALLROOM, LANTANA and a bit later THE CASTLE (1997). In 2000 we struck it again with LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI (Man I studied that in high school) and THE DISH. For the next 9 years – with the odd blip on the radar – Australian films fell off the radar and disappeared into the dark recesses of art house releases and all of a sudden most of our movies were depressing, bleak dramas that struggled to find an audience.

Something happened in the focus of Australian films and it seemed that ‘MAINSTREAM’ became a dirty word – were the budgets too high? Were the scripts not good enough? (Then please explain YOU AND YOUR STUPID MATE – how did that get made?? hehehe) What happened? Between 2000 and 2009, outside of THE WOG BOY and CHOPPER, we pretty much neglected mainstream cinema OR at least the audiences rejected the content we were delivering to them. We stayed away in droves from our own films (..and I’m not counting HAPPY FEET or AUSTRALIA in this list as to me they are studio films) To lose 9 years of cinema going, especially in our youth bracket, is an absolute crime because we have virtually bred an entire generation of Australians to not support local content. If you think about it – those 9 years have seen teenagers become adults and those adults will be having children – being that they never went to see Aussie films in that time frame will they take their kids? I hope you see the implications I’m leaning to… I know that probably sounds alarmist – but it’s a big big problem that needs to be addressed urgently.

In 2009 the release of MAO’S LAST DANCER was an unparalleled success and in 2010 we kicked a major goal in TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN, which for me is more important than any other release up until then – Why? Because it was the first film in 10 years that was an aspirational movie for teenagers… Something we’ve entirely forgotten about and a model that, if written relevantly, will always work. Teenagers are so so so so so important to the film industry – we cannot continue to ignore them if we want to sustain positivity in our content going forward. We need them. But I’ll shut up on that for now…

Both MAO and TOMORROW have very simliar features: A good mix of identifiable characters, a good mix of races, based off a bestselling books (or known stories) and both are fish out of water stories… 

Then came RED DOG last August out of MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL and it nabbed mainstream Australia by the throat and milked $21m out of us. BRAVO!

And so here we are mid way through 2012 and I’m thinking it’s going to be a home run for Aussie content to perform.. Here’s how we started…

A FEW BEST MEN – virtually a no name cast outside of Olivia Newton John, a broad raucous comedy that has fish out of water in it. Hang on, you guys get what I mean when I say fish out of water right? It worked!

ANY QUESTIONS FOR BEN? – Well okay this was a flop – there’s no if’s or but’s about it – but granted when was the last time you saw a 200+ print release on an Aussie film just weeks after one released?



THE SAPPHIRES – AUGUST 9, 2012 – almost following the release strategy of RED DOG, which played MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2011 then releases, it was opening night film and releases in Cinemas on Thursday. The film is proudly accessible, it’s vibrant, fun, heartfelt and guess what – to copy and paste a comment above – features A good mix of identifiable characters, a good mix of races, based off a bestselling books (or known stories) and [is a]  fish out of water story. BRING. IT. ON. I’ve got $15m on this puppy!

KATH & KIMDERELLA – SEPTEMBER 6, 2012 – It’s a no brainer. Doesn’t matter if it’s not even funny – it’s going to work. This should easily be the biggest Aussie film release this year without question. I’ve got $20m on this. With all that talent involved and the fact that everyone in the country knows KATH & KIM there’s really nothing stopping it from knocking the box office out of the park..

MENTAL – OCTOBER 4, 2012 – Toni Collette re-teams with P.J. Hogan for the first time since MURIEL’S WEDDING for this comedy. It’s also got Rebecca Gibney and Anthony LaPaglia supporting so the credentials are all there – can P.J. hit it again?? I think this is at least $12m low end – just depends on how the film turns out. But the materials for it are wacky and wild, the trailer is out there now too and I hope it’s another $10m+ hit

So that’s the 3 major Aus film releases for the next 6 months and look at em – Femme skewed (Australia is a femme skew market), broad, a good mix of identifiable characters, a good mix of races, based off known stories/shows/pedigree and all are fish out of water stories… I think we’re onto something.


I’ll leave you with this little thought – MAINSTREAM IS NOT A DIRTY WORD!!! I’m over hearing people talk it down like we should be ashamed of mainstream product – we shouldn’t – we should love it, embrace it and champion it! I do!


See you at the Aussie Movies in the Cinemas!