In the 2016/17 financial year, more than $1 billion was spent on producing screen drama in Australia, according to Screen Australia’s 27th annual Drama Report. It’s the first year the report has recorded more than $1 billion in expenditure.
The $1.3 billion total is a significant boost from the 2015/16 result of $843 million, and is driven largely by foreign feature films Thor: Ragnarok, Aquaman and Pacific Rim: Uprising, which all shot in Australia. Foreign features expenditure was up to $567 million in 2016/17, up from $249 million in 2015/16.
The foreign films result is due to both foreign films shot in Australia and the work of Australian companies on the post, digital and visual effects (PDV) of international features, including on The LEGO® Batman Movie and The LEGO® Ninjago Movie. PDV expenditure reached a record high of $252 million, across both local and foreign films.
But there was also a significant increase in local feature film expenditure, with $284 million spent across 41 films, compared to last survey’s $195 million across 32 films. Local films shot in the 2016/17 financial year include the foreign-backed Peter Rabbit, Warwick Thornton’s critical hit Sweet Country, and Stephan Elliott’s Swinging Safari.
Australian TV drama also exceeded last year’s record high, with a total of $321 million across 46 titles, up from $310 million across 44 titles in 2015-16. There was significant growth in the number of series produced, particularly half-hour comedies including Here Come the Habibs and The Family Law.
Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said: “Crossing the $1 billion expenditure threshold is an incredible milestone for the Australian screen industry and has not happened by accident. There is a whole ecosystem of support measures that keep our industry firing, including direct government funding, tax incentives and Australian content quotas.”