102-year-old Victoria Theatre in Auckland still going strong

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Day and Date Down Under

One of the nicest places to visit in Auckland, New Zealand is the harborside suburb of Devonport. When you go there, take a look at the fabulous Victoria Theatre, the oldest purpose-built cinema in the Southern Hemisphere. The Victoria opened on Oct. 26, 1912 and was partly destroyed by fire in 1924. It was rebuilt and lasted as a single screen until 1990, when it was twinned. The cinema started to deteriorate in the first part of the 21st century but was rescued by the local council after strong community action in 2006. After fundraising, the cinema reopened as a triple in 2010 and is now operating very successfully in its 103rd year. The main cinema (previously the stalls) seats 180, while the other two screens have 114 seats (the old balcony) and 44 seats, the latter a new art-house screen.

Mel Gibson is going back to directing with the World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge, which he will film in Australia. Andrew Garfield (The Amazing Spider-Man) will play Private First Class Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Also returning to his home country is director Fred Schepisi with his project The Olive Sisters, about a woman who moves from a New York apartment to a rundown olive farm in rural Australia. The film will star Lesley Mann, Anthony LaPaglia, Jacki Weaver and Melissa George.

The New Zealand horror comedy Housebound was released to some good reviews and moderate business last September. New Line Cinema liked the film but decided the best option was to remake it rather than release the original feature. Kiwi filmmakers Gerard Johnstone and Luke Sharpe will act as executive producers for the remake, which is currently out to writers. The story concerns a woman on court-mandated home detention. Her mother thinks the house is haunted, which it may well be.

Researcher IBISWorld says that film and video distributors earn just 22.5% of their income from cinemas in Australia. The majority, 40.2%, comes from retail, with 22.3% from TV and 11% in direct sales from outlets such as iTunes.

Send your Australia/New Zealand news to David Pearce at insidemovies@hotmail.com.