Latest 'Star Wars' lifts local box office to record $193m in 2015

Revenues rose by $10 million over the previous record year. With special feature audio.

Local film distributors say box office takings in 2015 reached $193 million, a 5.5% rise on the previous year.

It’s an outcome that Motion Picture Distributors’ Association president Andrew Cornwell says is an industry record, though it also reflects higher ticket prices and the figures are unadjusted for inflation.

“We are very pleased to see an increase of $10 million in total revenues from 2015 above 2014, which was in itself a record-breaking year," Mr Cornwell says.

An NBR compilation (see table below) goes beyond the December 31 cutoff, as three Christmas season releases are in the top 10.

After just five weeks, the $13.3 million for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is the largest for any single film since 2009’s Avatar, which grossed $17.2 million after a multi-month run.

The surprise breakout hit was runner-up Fast and Furious 7, an action show that bolted at the beginning of last year and beat the biggest of the mid-year blockbusters, Jurassic World and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Six earn $6 million or more
On NBR calculations, up to January 12, six films passed the $6 million mark. This compares with 2010, when Avatar and only three others achieved the same result.

They included Boy, the top-grossing New Zealand film. In 2015, no significant local features were released, compared with three in 2014 that made the $2 million mark.

The cinema industry added further 10 screens in 2015, bringing the total number to 418 digital screens.

These were the six-screen Reading multiplex in New Lynn, Auckland, and the reopening of the Ascot in Upper Hutt as the four-screen Monterey Cinemas, which is owned by Auckland interests.

Mr Cornwell says PwC released a report in 2015 showing the creative industries contributed a combined $3.8 billion to the economy and supports the employment of more than 40,000 people.

He says  intellectual property legislation is scheduled for review in 2016 and that “It’s crucial the government recognises strong copyright laws are needed to ensure the continued vibrancy and growth of the creative sector, which contributes so much to New Zealand’s economy, in both providing jobs and stimulating culture.”

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