Australia Production Is Robust and Evolving as Audiences Evolve and Streamers Go Local

Drama Report, Heartbreak High

Australia’s screen production industry enjoyed all-time record levels of spending in the 2021-2022 period to June. There was increasing spend on locally-produced scripted content as international streamers invested in Australian drama, but a decrease in the value of inbound foreign film and TV productions.

The annual “Drama Report,” published Thursday by Screen Australia, showed a record A$1.51 billion spent on Australian titles and a A$777 million on foreign productions. That added up to A$2.29 billion, compared with $1.94 billion in 2020-21.

The increase was driven by a record spend on Australian theatrical features (A$786 million up from A$495 million previously), albeit fewer of them.

Spending on Australian subscription TV and SVOD content tripled compared with 2020-21, in terms of number of titles and hours.

Spending on free-to-air (FTA) TV and broadcaster -led VOD and children’s drama also increased from last year, but it has not returned to previous highs in either category, the report said.

“It is amazing to see that international companies can see the potential of Australian content,” Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason told Variety. “Heartbreak High” the retread of an ancient Australian TV property has been an audience success for Netflix and was recently greenlighted for a second season.

In 2021-2022, total spend on Australian theatrical feature films reached a record A$786 million — an increase of 59% on 2020/21, and 89% up on the 5-year average. This result came with 24 features going into production, 35% below the 5-year average. Higher budget projects “Furiosa,” “Better Man” and “Foe” accounted for a significant proportion of the record spend.

Most of the projects were made for over A$5 million, and the number of titles made for under A$1 million continued to decline. While acknowledging that new talent may cut its teeth in smaller productions, behind the scenes Screen Australia has lobbied filmmakers to reconsider the viability of low-budget productions with small marketing budgets.

From Variety US