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The Babble Down Under: Aussie Box Office Update

Four Australian films have been making waves at the box office

By MovieBabblePublished 3 years ago 3 min read
IFC Films



Welcome to the second installment of The Babble Down Under. This month, I thought I’d change it up a little bit and not just review one film, but give a brief overview of the very unfamiliar territory the Australian Box Office finds itself in right now and the history that was recently made.

The Australian cinema industry, both in production and exhibition, finds itself in unfamiliar territory. We are one of the handful of territories around the world where COVID numbers are low enough for film projects to go into production within COVID-safe guidelines. Add in a $400m relocation incentive from the federal government and Australia is thrust into the international spotlight and becomes the envy of the filmmaking world, attracting major international projects to shoot down under. In the five months after the incentive was announced in July 2020, Ausfilm received $2.1b in production enquiries from 37 film projects all wanting to shoot in Australia. These projects have attracted the likes of Liam Neeson, Matt Damon, Melissa McCarthy, Zac Efron, and Mark Wahlberg among others to work on these lucrative productions and have reportedly created 11,800 industry jobs. Marvel has also announced that they plan to shift their headquarters from Atlanta to Sydney and shoot all their upcoming projects there ‘in the foreseeable future’.

However, it is a much different story when it comes to cinema exhibition. The international release schedule has dried up with many major titles getting delayed in the U.S. and U.K., providing a noticeably slight slate of current releases. However, this has proved to be a blessing in disguise for our local industry as it has provided an opportunity for Australian films to step up to the plate and have some box office success on their home turf for once. And much to my pleasant surprise, Australians have been going back to the movies in droves and actually supporting their own national cinema.

A few weeks ago, history was made. For the first time ever, three Australian films were in the top three of the Australian box office. The very next week, four of the top five films at the Box Office over Valentine’s Day weekend were Australian, locking the U.S. out of the top five. This is equally impressive considering the country’s second-largest state (and my home state), Victoria went into a five-day snap lockdown after a small spike in COVID cases and many cinema locations were forced to close that weekend. Here’s a quick overview of the four Australian films that took the reins of the Box Office in the absence of major releases that history-making weekend.

*All box office statistics are in Australian dollars ($AUD) and are correct as of end of February 2021.

Long Story Short

The most recent Aussie film entry to the box office is this time-bending rom-com. Written and directed by Aussie actor and soon-to-be Kano, Josh Lawson, Long Story Short sees Rafe Spall as Teddy, a serial procrastinator who has just married the love of his life Leanne (Zahra Newman) after five years together. After their spontaneous wedding, Teddy wakes up the next day to find that his life is flashing before his eyes, with a whole year passing by every few minutes. As he experiences time like he’s living on the giant wave planet from Interstellar, Teddy must use every precious moment to save the love of his life and learn to love the life he is losing.

Personally, I found the film to be disappointingly average. The cast is all good and there are some great jokes, but it’s very inconsistent and does not carry off its tonal shifts from wacky comedy to sappy seriousness very well at all. The time jumps add an interesting layer to the film, but it is a cliché rom-com at the end of the day that just riffs of every popular time travel film that has ever been made, to the point where they are name-dropped at points in the film.

Released over Valentine’s weekend, Long Story Short opened in 4th place, earning just under $316k from 278 screens. The Victorian lockdown definitely impacted its opening, especially since it is a romantic comedy that opened on Valentine’s weekend, but those numbers are not too bad with all things considered. The film has so far made $694k, unfortunately not making much of a dent domestically. Perhaps the cast of Rafe Spall and Daily Show alum, Ronny Chieng will be able to sell the film overseas, so it will be interesting to see if this high-concept rom-com will do better internationally.


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