New Zealand Parliament forbids zero-hour contracts

Day and Date Down Under

The New Zealand Parliament has just banned zero-hour contracts, an employment practice where a person is contracted to work but is promised zero hours work during any week. The contracts have been used widely in Kiwi cinemas. Under the new legislation, employers must guarantee a minimum number of hours per week.

Oh no: Kiwi audiences are getting louder and ruder. According to the editor of popular New Zealand cinema website, audiences are answering their phones in cinemas more than ever as well as talking and texting during the film. Flicks editor and manager Steve Newall says that baby-boomers are the worst and they feel they are entitled to talk during the film. According to a survey by Flicks, 43% of moviegoers were irritated by talking during films. Talking on phones came next.

New Zealand has film co-production agreements with 15 countries, and that increased to 16 with a new agreement signed last month with Israel. This follows the release of an Israeli-German-New Zealand co-production, Atomic Falafel, a film that has been a very big success in Israel. Another country with a co-production agreement is China, and the first production under this treaty has just been announced. The big-budget animated feature Beast of Burden will be co-directed by New Zealand animator Kirby Atkins (Smurfs 2) and Huang Jun. This film, which has a Chinese title that translates as The Legend of the Magic Elephant, focuses on a mythical creature and his son whose lives change when they come across a secret special cave. Kirby has been developing the film since 1999. The film is being produced by New Zealand's Huhu Studios and China Film Animation. The NZFC China Co-Production development fund provided initial funding for this project. CEO Dave Gibson said, “We in New Zealand should realize that we are an Asian country, and should take advantage of largely being in the same time zone as the world's second largest film industry.”

Also being developed is another NZ-China co-production, Cain and Abel, which focuses on a Chinese family being torn apart by hardship, betrayal and jealousy in the aftermath of the great California Gold Rush.

Village Roadshow announced a number of new Australian cinemas in development, with an emphasis on areas with real population growth. They will be opening a joint Greater Union/Village Roadshow 930-seat eight-plex in the Adelaide suburb of Glenelg in December, and a new site at North Lakes in Queensland is also due to open this year. VR has plans for Palmerston in the Northern Territory, Coomera, in Queensland and the growing suburb of Plenty Valley in Victoria in 2017-2018. At one stage, it was announced that Reading would construct a cinema complex in the Westfield development at Plenty Valley, but no news has been heard about that for several years.

The number of independent cinemas in Australia has dropped from 350 in 2005 to 304 in 2015. There have been calls for government funding to save independent cinemas.

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