‘Gold Class Lite’ catches on in Australia

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Day and Date Down Under

The newest trend in Australian cinemas is for some of the best aspects of Gold Class cinemas to be adapted for "normal" screens. Hoyts is leading the way with the addition of recliner seats to their main auditoriums. Netflix has launched in Australia in the last 12 months, and the idea of giving the customer better value and comfort is considered to be a great way of keeping the cinema experience the first choice for consumers. The upgrade means that cinemas will lose around 40% of their seating capacity.

Hoyts Group CEO Damian Keogh said that he expected that almost half of their 39 Australian cinema complexes will be fitted with recliners by the end of the year. Additional hot food is also on the menu, with items such as fries (US$3.40); pizza (US$7.50) and classic American hot dogs at $6.75.

Village has taken a slightly different path with the introduction of VPremium cinemas. These are designed to be better than the average screens with new plush seating, but not as good as the Gold Class screens. The ticket price for these screens is around A$3 (US$2.30) more per ticket than standard cinemas.

Other chains are also looking to increase their emphasis on food and comfort. Hoyts says that results in the first two of their complexes to get the new recliner seats showed an uplift in both ticket sales and patron visits.

A low-budget comedy, Goodbye Pork Pie, became a box-office hit in New Zealand in 1981. The film was directed by Geoff Murphy. As with all successes, a remake is now underway, and the person at the helm is Murphy's son Matt, with James Rolleston and Dean O'Gorman starring.

Stratford is a country town near Mt. Egmont in New Zealand. In 1916, a committee was formed there to buy an old theatre, demolish it and open a cinema, The Kings was born and on April 1, 1927, it was the first cinema in the Southern hemisphere to screen talkies. Old photos of the theatre show three panels of stained glass above the main entrance, but these were removed at least 50 years ago. Robert Clement (father of Jemaine Clement of The BFG andRio 1 and 2) has just been asked to design a new three-panel stained-glass piece to be put over the front of the entrance, ready for the cinema's centenary next year. Some excellent photos of the theatre, now known as the TET (Taranaki Electricity Trust) Kings Theatre, can be found at kingstheatre.co.nz

Sport movies are always difficult to market internationally. Gridiron and baseball films typically have their largest success in the U.S. Australia has made films focusing on cricket and lawn bowls and these did little business outside their home country. Boxing seems one of the few sports where national boundaries have had no effect on box office. Despite this, a rugby film, entitled Chasing Great, will open in New Zealand in September. The film focuses on New Zealand rugby player Richie McCaw and hopes are that there will be interest in other major rugby nations such as Australia, the U.K., Fiji, Papua and South Africa.

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