Pad na Jou Hart: top local performer at the South African box office in 2014While South African movies continued to impress on the international film festival circuit last year, their takings at local cinemas disappointed, according to the South Africa Box Office Report for 2014.

Released by the National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) on 11 March, the report found that South African cinema revenues for all films remained almost static in 2014, increasing by 0.13% year-on-year to R880.3-million. Foreign films, however, increased their takings by 6%, while South African films dropped 44% compared to 2013.

Of the total 228 films shown in the country's cinemas in 2014, 23 were local films - down from 25 in 2013. Together, they earned a relatively meagre R55.2-million, amounting to a market share of just 6% - down from 11% in the previous two years.

On the international front

While South African films struggled to compete with foreign productions locally, however, they continued to impress internationally in 2014.

Animated movie Khumba has outperformed US film The Nut Job in Chinese theatres, grossing over US$6-million, while Afrikaans language film Musiek vir die Agtergrond was bought by a US distributor, released in Australia and New Zealand, and became only the second SA film, following Yesterday in 2004, to make the official selection of Mumbai International Film Festival (MAMI).

And local films continued to shine at major international festivals. At the recent Pan African Film and Television Festival in Ouagadougou (Fespaco), the continent's premier film and TV fest, Cold Harbour was voted Best First Feature Narrative and Thina so Babili won an Audience Award.

Four Corners, nominated for Best Narrative Feature at Fespaco, has also won a slew of awards abroad, including Best Film awards at the Niagara Integrated Film Festival in Canada and the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, and a 2nd Place Best Film Youth Jury award at the Giffoni Film Festival in Italy. It was also the only African film to be nominated for Best International Motion Picture by the International Press Academy at the 2014 Satellite Awards.

Developing a local cinema going culture

Commenting on the report, NFVF chief executive Zama Mkosi said that these achievements, "together with others the country continues to receive, are testament that our industry has come of age, and that our stories are appreciated by the rest of the world. It is now up to us South Africans to support local releases".

Mkosi said the NFVF had recently conducted audience research which indicated that "access to cinemas, cinema experience, and the content we provide to consumers play a key role in cinema attendance. To remedy this we will be developing an audience development strategy to ensure South Africa's appreciation of local films."

The report clearly points in this direction, stating: "It is no longer about South Africans not producing enough films to cater for the local audience, rather it is about developing a strong cinema going culture in order to get more audiences to watch South African films."

Mkosi said the NFVF, together with the Industrial Development Corporation and Department of Trade and Industry, had also launched an Emerging Black Filmmakers Transformation Fund in July 2014, to address the scarcity of films produced by black filmmakers.

Afrikaans language movies show the way

That a strong cinema going culture is already in place in sections of the Afrikaans community is clear from the report. Afrikaans language films continued to do well at the box office in 2014, accounting for 48% of the local releases and 66% of local box office revenues. Six of South Africa's top-earning films of the year were Afrikaans language films, with Pad na Jou Hart topping the local earnings list with R11.6-million, followed by Leading Lady (R7.6-million) and Faan se Trein (R7.2-million).

Making up the rest of SA's top 10 earners were Vrou Soek Boer (R5.4-million), Knysna (R4.8-million), Spud 3: Learning to Fly (R3.7-million), Konfetti (R2.5-million), iNumber Number (R1.9-million), Hard to Get (R1.7-million), and Die Spook van Uniondale (R1.4-million).

Pad na Jou Hart was the only local film to make the overall list of top 25 earners at South African cinemas in 2014, the most popular movies being Transformers: Age of Extinction (R27-million), The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (R25.2-million), and How to Train your Dragon 2 (R23.3-million).

Animation was once more the highest-earning genre with a combined gross of R140-million, followed by action/adventure with R139-million, drama with R120-million and comedy with R94-million. At the same time, 3D movies continued to grow, with 36 3D films released in 2014 compared to 33 in 2013, and 3D films taking 45% of total box office gross compared to 41% the previous year.

Source: staff reporter
Contact the Gauteng Film Commission