To start at the beginning, the history of the Australian film industry is set against what happens in Hollywood. Let us not pretend otherwise. Yet the political economy of the contemporary film industry is one that continues to undergo rapid change, as film production a la Hollywood is perpetually a model to emulate and reject. Filmmaking in a national context is no longer about films per se but about popular image making and the struggles over the hegemony of ideas within a society. Furthermore, contemporary filmmaking is increasingly not about films; it is about value adding in the entertainment economy.
According to Harper Index, the average number of 101 Dalmatians products introduced each day since the film's release in December 1996 is 380.1
The question then is what sort of national film industry can Australia have in the late 1990s? The answer, in part, is that the film industry has become part of the entertainment economy and Global Entertainment Corporations, which trades in an undifferentiated set of digital entertainment content.2 Yet the concept of a film industry is crucial to a nation's sense of itself. In Australia, with a population of eighteen million, and about the eighth largest market for Hollywood product, the Australian film industry reflects an intersection of government policy focus, public funding, democratic access to production of popular culture, and intense creative output, which have evolved over the history of the industry.
In the following overview of the Australian film industry, I will examine three categories that describe the linkages between the economic and cultural history of the Australian film industry that bring us to the 1990s. The political economy I adopt sees the United States and "Hollywood" not as a simplified antagonist in an instrumental turn but as part of the larger perspective of world capitalism, where changes to components of production may provide new spaces for innovation in national and localized film.3 I will show