The arrival of a shipment of US films in Sydney in 1916 confirmed that Hollywood had won Australian hearts. But some commentators were already concerned about the impact on Australian film production. On 16 March 1916, ‘Kinema’ of the Melbourne Argus asked, 'Why should Australia be mainly dependent upon other countries' for its motion pictures? The article explored costs and marketplace realities that forced the closure of Australian film-producing companies, 'one after the other'. In a conclusion that resonates even today, Kinema says, 'whilst the successful Australian productions can be counted upon the fingers of the two hands, the number of those which have entailed serious financial loss is unfortunately considerable'.
In this clip the Oceanic liner SS Sierra arrives in Sydney with a shipping crate filled with Hollywood movies from the US studio Triangle, ‘the most valuable shipment of films yet shipped to Australia’. The cargo is offloaded at Circular Quay, delighting wartime audiences and creating despair for Australian filmmakers.
This film clip item appeared in the newsreel Australasian Gazette (No 277). The newsreel was made by Australasian Films, which happened to have the exclusive rights to distribute Triangle Films productions in Australia and New Zealand. Their publicity efforts are understandable - the company had paid £40,000 for its Triangle contract. The investment paid off when, after an introductory screening of the new films, picture-show managers pronounced Triangle productions ‘as fine as anything yet seen here, and the photography is well-nigh perfect’.
Triangle Film Corporation was a prestigious Hollywood studio with high-profile film directors Thomas Ince, DW Griffith and Mack Sennett. It was 'incorporated for a million pounds', said the Sydney Sunday Times, and each director earned £20,000 per year. Among its stars were the up-and-coming Douglas Fairbanks as well as established theatre celebrities such as Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree.