Australian Context

We want to note here that to appropriate our findings onto a more local context within Australia would require future research and potentially only include a limited sample of Australian films. Our focus on the analysis of certain successful US films to compare and contrast original and adapted content though not nationally based within our context, we believe is relevant to Australian audiences as we are exposed to an immense amount of US films to compete with our own national releases. This consequently lead us to the decision to base our research within the US film market, centering on the pre-established notion that Australian audiences are welcoming and well accustomed to US content. The prominence of these international films within the Australian film industry is an important element to fathom in order to understand the audience reception and success rates of certain films nationally, as well as globally.

Furthermore, we contend our research into this area of inquiry would’ve been limited if scoped within Australia, as Australia’s film industry infrequently creates adaptations, as illustrated by Hancock below:

While the development rates for adaptations in Australia are largely unknown, the proportion released in 1999-2008 suggests that it is lower when compared to the US and UK. In the US, around 70 per cent of all projects being developed by Hollywood studios are adaptations. In the UK it is just shy of 50 per cent” (Hancock 2010).

This then brings us to the million dollar reason that influences the films being made in Australia and the largely US films base being distributed here, money. Raising money is hard when it comes to filmmaking in general, however raising money for adaptations to envision the concept to a certain standard requires even deeper pockets. Matthew Hancock suggests in his paper ‘Mitigating Risk’, one barrier to producing adaptations may be higher production costs. In his study period, the median budget of adaptations was $7.5 million compared to $3.5 million for original films. Therefore, low Australian film budgets make creating adapted content extremely difficult, while it becomes just another day at the office for US counterparts.

That being said, just because Australia doesn’t make many adaptation films doesn’t mean that the adaptable content isn’t here. Through acquisition of original content for creation to film some of Australia’s most well-known authors are being represented by international agents, increasing competition for their work. This competition creates an uneven playing field that can be seen to influence the release of adaptations in the US to remain relatively steady from 1999-2008. They accounted for around 50 per cent of releases and 60-70 per cent of the box office each year, with eight of the top ten grossing films being based on adapted source material. In contrast, Australian adaptations took only 25 per cent of the total box office. On this note, there’s also the contention that certain stories are culturally bound into the national makeup of the countries they were created in and adaptation within another context would not suit the story physically as well as culturally. For example, Spider-Man arguably could not be adapted within an Australian context as we don’t have the comic book history nor the superhero mentality to convey the film to the customary standard.

Therefore though Australia does have adaptations, they are not created and distributed anywhere near the scale of the US’s efforts. We encourage future research to be conducted within this field of inquiry to examine why this is the case and theorise the potential cultural influences of a mainly US film base on Australian audiences.

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