South Africa: The National Film and Video Foundation releases 2015 Box Office Report


The 2015 box office revealed a remarkable year for theatrical releases in South African cinema industry. Gross Box Office saw an impressive growth of 36%, even though there was a price hike on cinema tickets by exhibitors. Cinemas in South Africa typically saw price increases, with Ster-Kinekor and Times Media implementing an increment every year due to economic instabilities.

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF), an agency of the Department of Arts and Culture constantly conducts research into varying aspects of the film industry to develop a better understanding of the industry and to inform strategic focus. The foundation has therefore released its Box Office Report for the period of January to December 2015.

Box office revenues recorded a solid upward trend with all theatrical revenues 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, Star Wars was the second highest grossing film taking R51.5 million for the 8 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% of gross box office. The top 3 local films that performed well at box office were Schuks! Pay Back the Money grossing R17.6 million, Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling grossed over R9 million and Mooirivier took R7.2 million.

Still on the locally produced films, there were few combinations of genre with Comedy being the highest grossing genre earning R28 million with only 3 titles; in second place was Drama with 10 titles released, earning R22 million, and Romantic genre had 4 titles released taking R13 million of the box office revenue.

Multilingual films were the most popular accounting for 14 titles released and taking 65% of the gross (R45 million. Afrikaans/English which was Shcuks! Pay Back the Money earned R17.6 million (25%). IsiZulu/English language films followed in the third place earning R4.2 (6%) million, those included the likes of Tell Me Sweet Something, Ayanda Movie and Hear Me Move.

South Africa has become steadily more popular in recent years as an international filming location. The country continues to meet its growing international demand for its attractive locations. Some of the international feature films shot on location in South Africa and released in local cinemas are as follows:

Avengers: Age of Ultron was one of the most anticipated titles which had few scenes shot in Johannesburg inner city and Sandton;
Mad Max Fury Road another moderate hit at the box office 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 (The Windmill) 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 coveted Audience Choice Award at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) 2015, which took place in Los Angeles. Miners Shot Down continues to garner international recognition. The film, supported by the National Film and Video Foundation won Best Documentary at the International Emmy. Necktie Youth, another local drama won both the best South African feature award and the international jury award for best director “Sibs Shongwe-La Mer” at the Durban International Film Festival (DIFF).

One of the key success factor in determining the kind of films moviegoers would most likely to watch at box office is the “genre classification”. The most popular genre in 2015 with the highest earnings was Action claiming 20% of box office gross (R245 million), a huge improvement from 6% previous period. Action/Adventure was the second grossing genre with 17% (same as last year), and Animation earned 17% (same 2014). respectively.

A detailed report can be downloaded here: