New art twin opens in Christchurch, New Zealand

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Day and Date Down Under

It is five years since the earthquakes that devastated Christchurch, New Zealand, and closed many of the city's cinemas. Some will never open again. The Arts Centre, home of galleries, theatres and art-house cinemas, is still undergoing repairs and no reopening date has been announced. Meanwhile, a new twin art-house cinema, the Deluxe Cinema, has opened in an old red brick building, The Tannery. One screen has 33 seats and the other has 45 seats. The cinema took three years to build due to complications over complying with Christchurch's new earthquake code. Had the building been demolished and rebuilt, it probably would have taken half that time.

In keeping with a trend in New Zealand art houses, no popcorn will be served. Instead, the cinema will have wine and cheese boards plus other choices. Jeremy Stewart who operates the cinema with his brother and father, said, "We are not going to show Iron Man in here, but we would have Marigold Hotel or Jungle Book.”

Kiwi writer-director Taika Waititi, currently filming Thor: Ragnarok in Australia, is enjoying huge success in his home country with the two top-grossing locally produced films ever. Boy still sits at number one with over NZ$9 million, while his most recent film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople sits in second spot with NZ$7.5million and rising. Hunt stars Sam Neill as a cantankerous older man and Julian Dennison as his misfit foster nephew. The two, who do not really get on at all, find themselves on the run in the wilds of a New Zealand forest. The film is inspired by the book Wild Park and Watercress by popular Kiwi comedy author Barry Crump.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople premiered at this year's Sundance Film Festival. It opens in Australia on May 26 and in the U.S. on June 24. Waititi has one other film in the top ten of locally produced New Zealand films, What We Do in the Shadows, which sits at number seven on the chart. He is writing a sequel to that horror/comedy, We're Wolves, and hopes to film that after Thor.

Hoyts has been announced as the preferred operator for a new eight-screen cinema to be built next year in Canberra's Gungahlin suburb.

The average price of a cinema ticket in Australia rose to A$15.81 (US$12.02), according to the most recent figures from Screen Australia. But if you are going to see a film in Perth, Western Australia, expect to pay an average of A$20 (US$15.21), the highest average in Australia. Not surprisingly, Western Australian cinemas reported record profits in 2016.

Patrons who want to see a film in a large-screen V-Max format will pay A$25 (US$19), or if you want the reclining seats and food service of Gold Class, expect to pay A$33 to $35 (US$25 to $27) per ticket.

You can get cheaper movie seats at one location in Perth: Reading’s complex in Belmont tested an A$10 ticket in 2014 and found it so popular they have continued it to the present day, despite a A$1.50 average rise in Australian ticket prices over the past two years.

And in further cinema price news, Village Cinemas ended their very long running promotion of low-cost Tuesday cinema tickets for everybody. Now, only those who sign up for their loyalty scheme, Village Movie Club, will get Tuesday discounts. Hoyts has not changed its Tuesday discount day and still offers it to all patrons.

The Queensland chapter of the Cinema and Theatre Historical Society of Australia celebrated the 109th birthday of Brisbane's first purpose-built cinema, the Lyceum. During the 1960s, it was renamed the George; it is now called the Tribal but no longer operates as a cinema. The cinema was the venue for a major scandal in 1942: An American soldier developed a crush on one of the cinema's usherettes. They went out a few times but the romance ended badly. He returned to the cinema and shot her twice, later shooting himself. She survived, he didn't.