For the South African cinema industry 2015 was a remarkable year for theatrical releases, as revealed in the annual National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) box office report.
Gross box office saw an impressive growth of 36 per cent, even though there was a price hike on cinema tickets by exhibitors. Cinemas in South Africa saw price increases, with Ster-Kinekor and Times Media implementing an increment every year due to economic instabilities.
Box office revenues recorded a solid upward trend with gross theatrical earnings adding up to R1.198 billion in 2015. This was due to popular releases of films such as Fast & Furious 7, which was the top earner grossing R89.9 million and Star Wars, which was the second highest grossing film taking R51.5 million for the eight weeks it was on circuit. Minions, which grossed R50 million in 12 weeks, was amongst the top earning films.
Locally produced films performed significantly well, a total of 22 local films were released with a box office earning of R69.2 million, which accounted for 6 per cent of gross box office earnings. The top three local films that performed well at the box office were Schuks! Pay Back the Money grossing R17.6 million, Ballade vir ‘n Enkelinggrossing over R9 million and Mooirivier which took R7.2 million.
Still on locally produced films, Comedy was the highest grossing genre earning R28 million with only three titles. In second place was Drama earning R22 million with ten titles released, followed by the Romance genre with four titles taking R13 million of the annual box office revenue.
Multilingual films were the most popular with 14 titles released taking 65 per cent of the gross R45 million. Afrikaans/English film Schuks! Pay Back the Money earned R17.6 million (25 per cent). IsiZulu/English language films earned R4.2 (6 per cent) million, these included the titles Tell Me Sweet Something, Ayanda and Hear Me Move.
South Africa has become steadily more popular in recent years as an international filming location. Some of the international feature films shot on location in South Africa and released in local cinemas are as follows:
• Avengers: Age of Ultron had a few scenes shot in Johannesburg inner city and Sandton;
• Mad Max Fury Road had scenes shot at the Cape Town film studios;
• After shooting both District 9 and Elysium in SA, Neil Blomkamp returned again with Chappie, a science fiction film also shot in Johannesburg inner city and other parts of Soweto.
A number of local films were well received by the international audience. Local Afrikaans film Die Windpomp won the Audience Award for Best Foreign Film at the 2015 Long Beach International Film Festival in New York, competing against over 50 internationally acclaimed films. Thina Sobabili won the Audience Choice Award at the Pan African Film Festival 2015, which took place in Los Angeles. Miners Shot Down won Best Documentary at the International Emmy Awards and continues to garner international recognition. At the Durban International Film Festival 2015, local drama Necktie Youth won Best South African Feature and the director, Sibs Shongwe-La Mer, won the International Jury Award for Best Director.
The most popular genre in 2015 with the highest earnings was Action, claiming 20 per cent of box office gross (R245 million), a huge improvement from 6 per cent in the previous period. Action/Adventure was the second highest grossing genre with 17 per cent (same as 2014) and Animation earned 17 per cent (same as 2014).
For the full report, visit the NFVF website.