Australian Drama Spend Reaches All-Time High


Screen Australia’s latest Drama Report reveals an all-time high expenditure in Australia on scripted screen production of A$2.29 billion ($1.5 billion), made up of a record spend on Australian titles of A$1.51 billion ($750 million) and A$777 million ($506 million) on foreign productions.

In total, A$2.29 billion was spent across 162 drama screen productions that started production or postproduction in Australia in 2021-22, compared to A$1.94 billion ($1.3 billion) spent across 163 productions in 2020-21.

The increase was propelled by a record spend on Australian theatrical features—A$786 million ($513 million) up from $A495 million ($323 million) last year—as well as a record spend on Australian subscription TV and SVOD, for which the number of titles, hours and budgets have tripled from 2020-21. Spend on free-to-air TV and BVOD drama, and children’s drama across TV and VOD platforms, also increased from last year but has not returned to previous highs in either category.

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said, “Hitting well over the A$2 billion mark is an incredible milestone for our sector, and it’s truly a bumper year for Australian scripted content—to have local productions make up 66 percent of this spend is extraordinary. Distinctly Australian stories continue to captivate audiences here and overseas, with Heartbreak High reaching the top ten on international Netflix charts, and shows from Bluey to Bump taking the world by storm.”

“This is a unique year for feature film, with several high-budget Australian projects starting production, including Dr. George Miller’s Furiosa, which are bringing significant economic and creative benefits. However, the number of Australian films that went into production has decreased. It’s no secret that the content landscape across film, television and online has changed, and viewing habits are continually evolving. This is most evident in the reduction in films being produced for theatrical release, the shift in drama spend from television to online platforms, and the increasing spend on premium drama.”

“While it’s a crowded market, the appetite for local content remains, and it’s heartening to see increased Australian projects produced for streaming platforms in 2021-22. Screen Australia is committed to supporting a range of stories for big and small screens, from The Dry’s sequel Force of Nature to mystery series True Colours featuring Arrernte languages to the third and final season of YouTube megahit Meta Runner.”

“We know the value and power of Australian children’s stories, and it’s vital for our kids and our national identity that Aussie children are able to see themselves reflected on screen. Children’s content has declined from historic highs as the sector adjusts to digital disruption, new audience habits, and changed content regulations and funding support. Despite this, there are still high-quality projects going into production with some wonderful titles to enjoy from this year’s slate, including Barrumbi Kids shot in the Northern Territory, Crazy Fun Park in Victoria, Beep and Mort in South Australia, Rock Island Mysteries in Queensland and The PM’s Daughter in Canberra and New South Wales.”

“While foreign production spend has dipped from last year’s record year, it’s still looking healthy against the five-year average. Projects like Ticket to Paradise offer important opportunities for Australian creatives to cut their teeth on big international productions, and we have more to look forward to next year with the Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes and the sequel to Godzilla Vs Kong. Australia has also made a name for itself in PDV, with projects including The Flash and The Marvels undertaking work here, and we’re thrilled to see this part of the sector growing to record highs.”

“Our focus now is to work together with the industry to address gaps in skills and capacity that have come as a result of the production boom, to ensure we are in the best position to keep up the pace and further boost the potential of Australian stories and storytellers,” Mason continued.