Box office in Australia fell by 69 per cent in 2020 as the coronavirus outbreak forced cinema closures, capacity restrictions, the postponement of film releases and public health concerns about attending theatres.
Data published on Thursday by the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia showed nationwide annual revenues slumped from $A1.23 billion in 2019 to just $A401 million in 2020.
Locally made films grossed an aggregate $A22.6 million, down from $A40 million a year earlier.
The MPDAA said that the outcome “was a testament to the Australian public’s ongoing love of seeing movies on the big screen”.
It said the result was especially encouraging given the acceleration of audience fragmentation through growing digital content services coupled with stay-at-home trends during the pandemic.
Sony’s Jumanji: The Next Level with $A28.9 million was the top grossing film in 2020, followed by Universal’s 1917 with $A23.3 million and Sony’s Bad Boys for Life on $A19.6 million.
The two major Hollywood titles released after Australian cinemas re-opened in June 2020 managed top ten chart positions. Warner Bros.’ Tenet grossed $A15.9 million while Wonder Woman 1984 managed $A11.9 million.
The MPDAA said Australian exhibitors implemented measures to ensure the safety of customers and staff, including a reduction in auditorium capacities, staggered seating to ensure physical distancing and stringent cleaning programs.
As a result, going to the movies has proven to be one of the safest activities for small groups of people, with zero cases of community transmission of Coronavirus in cinemas anywhere in Australia,” the MPDAA noted.
“The death of cinema has been heralded each time a new technology shifted traditional business models.
“However, the unquestionable enhancement of seeing a film on the big screen as well as the sentimental attachment to the communal experience of going to the movies with family and friends has proven to be robust and durable.”
“The outlook is bright with an abundance of great films releasing in 2021,” said Brian Pritchett, Chairman of the MPDAA and MD, Paramount Pictures Australia, in an MPDAA statement.