Avoca Beach Cinema battles preservationists

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Day and Date Down Under

The Avoca Beach Cinema is a wonderful single-screen beachside cinema about an hour north of Sydney, and it has been in a 13-year battle with its opponents as it tries to keep up with modern cinema management. The proprietors wish to add a two-story wing next to the current cinema with four new screens seating 30, 40, 50 and 160 people without changing the current cinema. The current single screen is becoming less viable by the year and it is very difficult to play films that appeal to all possible patrons. Opposing the plan are both the local council and the Avoca Beach Cinema Preservation group. The council says the plan is out of character and the local preservation group want the cinema kept as it is. The interior of the cinema has been listed as one of the ten most beautiful in the world by the BBC. Proprietors Beth and Norman Hunter have just lodged a new appeal against the council's latest ruling denying the development.

Both Australia and New Zealand celebrated record years at the box office in 2015. New Zealand's total was up 5.5% from NZ$183 million in 2014 to NZ$193 million in 2015. Australians spent a total A$1,226,315,433, surpassing the previous record year, 2010, by more than $120 million. It was also a great year for local films Down Under, with Australian movies taking A$88 million, the best result ever and the best result, adjusted for inflation, since 2001.Local films earned 7.18 percent of the total cinema ticket income.

There were more shark attacks on the Australian coast in 2015 than in any previous year. Many involved surfers. Filmmaker Jonathan N. Dixon feels that most shark movies have focused on swimmers and not surfers and he aims to remedy that. He is setting up a crowdfunding campaign for his new film, Grey Fear, which has been described as Point Blank meets sharks. It involves a menacing shark or two, some crooked professional surfers and a heist.

Many independent local films struggle to get screened in regional areas. The Independent Cinemas Association of Australia has come up with a scheme, “My Cinema Select,” to help rectify this. “My Cinema Select is the latest of our initiatives under the My Cinema banner, which we hope will be successful in increasing admissions and box office for upmarket and limited release films at member cinemas, as well as supporting broader regional access to limited release Australian films,” ICAA CEO Adrienne Pecotic said. The first film launched under the scheme was Looking for Grace on Australia Day (Jan. 26).

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