Village Roadshow, Event Hospitality & Entertainment and Hoyts have been forced to close their cinema chains following a federal government-mandated shutdown announced on March 23 which has given Mediaweek a chance to look back at the historical box office in Australia. This week we will examine which Australian made films were the highest-grossing releases. The films are ranked by its original total with the *inflation-adjusted total beside it in brackets.
*Note: These inflation-adjusted numbers are approximations and are provided by the Reserve Bank of Australia
#1 Crocodile Dundee $47.70m ($128.39m)
The Hoyts distributed film was originally released on the 30th of April 1986 starring famed local comedian Paul Hogan and it unseated Mad Max 2 as the top domestically produced film in the country. The film has maintained this top spot ever since, spending the last 33+ years comfortably ahead of any other locally produced film with the gap even larger when you factor in inflation. In fact, the $128.39m inflation mark would make it the highest-grossing film in Australian history beating the $115.78m made by 2009’s Avatar.
#2 Australia $37.55m ($47.12m)
The super team of director Baz Luhrman and actors Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman teamed up for this epic romance film set in the backdrop of Northern Australia during World War II which was distributed by Fox in November of 2008. Luhrmann originally planned to make a film about Alexander the Great starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman but ultimately pivoted with Russell Crowe originally planned to star before Jackman eventually took the role.
#3 Babe $36.79m ($65.16m)
“That will do pig” indeed as the adaption of Dick King-Smith’s 1983 novel The Sheep-Pig would be the second highest-grossing local production in Australian history if adjusted for inflation after being released in December of 1995 by UIP. The film was also a critical success earning seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, winning Best Visual Effects. The film is also known as Babe: The Gallant Pig in the US.
#4 Happy Feet $31.78m ($42.58m)
Released in December 2006 by Village Roadshow and directed by Australian George Miller who is known for the Mad Max franchise and was also a producer on Babe. The film was a critical success winning the inaugural BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, and it was the fourth non-Disney or Pixar film to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. This is also the second film in the top five to feature Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.
#5 Lion $29.56m ($30.61m)
The most recently released film in the top five after being released in January of 2017, Lion is a biographical drama film based on the non-fiction book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. The film stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, David Wenham and, for the third time on this list, Nicole Kidman and was distributed by Transmission.
Along with these top five films the other films in the top 10 include:
#6 Moulin Rouge, 2001, distributed by Fox- $27.73m ($42.79m)
#7 The Great Gatsby, 2013, distributed by Roadshow- $27.38m ($30.46)
#8 Peter Rabbit, 2018, distributed by Sony- $26.75m ($27.18)
#9 Crocodile Dundee 2, 1988, distributed by Hoyts- $24.91 ($57.63)
#10 Strictly Ballroom, 1992, distributed by Ronin- $21.76m ($41.83)