All of the Australian Movies That Became Massively Popular Overseas
Here in Australia, we are known for many things including stunning beaches, an enviable quality of life and a love of sport that is only rivalled by our love of prawns at Christmas.
When it comes to being taken seriously on the world stage, it can sometimes feel that we have a ways to go. But a quick read of this list of Australian films that made a splash overseas should set you right in no time.
This joyous animated film about a penguin who can’t sing but has the incredible ability to tap dance is beloved all over the world.
Happy Feet took home the 2007 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was the third highest grossing animated film of 2006 in the U.S., behind Cars and Ice Age: The Meltdown.
1979’s post-apocalyptic action blockbuster Mad Max (which, incidentally, was directed by Happy Feet’s George Miller) put Mel Gibson on the map and paved the way for several highly successful sequels.
The first instalment was not only a box office success in Australia, but held the Guinness Book of World Records title for most profitable film ever made for decades.
In 1994 the infamous line: “You’re terrible, Muriel” swept the nation, before Muriel’s Wedding went on to capture the hearts of moviegoers around the world.
Starring Toni Collette in her breakout role alongside Rachel Griffiths and Aussie screen royalty Bill Hunter, Muriel’s Wedding is a hilarious, and surprisingly dark, film about finding your place in the world.
And ABBA, it’s also kind of about ABBA.
Maybe it was the presence of US heartthrob Josh Lucas that made this sweet Aussie film appeal to overseas viewers.
Or maybe it was simply the heartwarming true story of a small mining town, brought together by an intrepid pup that caused such a stir.
Red Dog was a hit with international audiences either way and it remains a favourite on home soil too.
Rabbit Proof Fence
Set in 1931, Rabbit Proof Fence tells the story of three mixed-race girls who are brutally taken from their Aboriginal mother and sent over a thousand miles away to a training camp for domestic workers. Together, the girls embark on an arduous journey to find their way back home.
Not only did the film find success at the international box-office, but it brought the plight of the Stolen Generation to the screen, leaving many Aussies to grapple with a troubling history they had previously turned a blind eye to.
Nominated for six Academy Awards, Lion tells the true story of a young boy who finds himself lost and miles away from his home in India, eventually ending up in Australia where he is adopted by a young couple.
The themes of longing, hope and the search for identity are universal and Lion explores them all beautifully, so it’s no wonder audiences around the world were captivated by this piece of Aussie cinema.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
International audiences fell in love with this story of two drag performers and a transgender woman who board their bus (the titular Priscilla) to travel across the most barren landscapes of Australia so they might perform their show at a resort in Alice Springs.
The movie has since been adapted into a stage musical which has been performed all over the world.
Baz Luhrmann knocked it out of the park, yet again, with this epic celebration of colour, costumes, music and romance.
Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor stole the hearts of viewers around the world as ill-fated lovers Satine and Christian who seek solace in one another in Paris during 1899. The pair meet in secret as Satine has been promised to another man, but she is keeping a devastating secret from both of her suitors.
The soundtrack to Moulin Rouge! proved just as commercially successful as the film itself with both taking the world by storm.
In 1986 Crocodile Dundee exploded onto screens and can potentially be held responsible for the world thinking that all Aussies are croc fighting, roo shooting, shrimp on the barbie eating larrikins.
Made with the intention of achieving crossover success between the US and Australian markets, Crocodile Dundee achieved its goal and then some.
This petrifying horror film is a classic example of how sometimes a film doesn’t do so well in its own market, only to find cult status overseas.
The Babadook is the intensely scary story of a single mother, who has lost her husband to a violent death, and her struggles with her son’s fear of a monster lurking in the house.
Is the little boy’s imagination running wild? Or is he seeing things exactly as they are.
The film has been praised for its use of metaphors and for leaning on the power of suggestion as opposed to ostentatious frights and it is strongly encouraged that you don’t watch this one alone.