Sinemia and Choovie bring subscriptions and dynamic pricing to Australia

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Day and Date Down Under

MoviePass has been getting a lot of press in the U.S. but so far has not arrived Down Under. That is not to say it will not come here, but some industry figures have their doubts. Because most major chains do not have competing cinemas in the majority of their cities and suburbs, there is said to be less reason for them to look at outside movie-subscription services. However, cinema audiences per capita peaked in 2001, and cinema operators are always looking at ways to increase attendance.

One U.S. movie subscription service, Sinemia, has arrived in Australia and is already doing business here, although no figures have been released. Sinemia is currently offering a similar rate as it does in the U.S., with a Winter Special of A$3.99 a month for one movie, A$7.99 for two and A$12.99 for three films a month. In the U.S. it charges customers an annual fee, while currently in Australia customers are billed monthly.

Most chains have their own cinema clubs which offer members discounted tickets. I am sure they have all considered launching their own subscription service, but none has done so as yet.

An alternative scheme is Choovie, an Australian company that uses a dynamic-pricing formula. Choovie tickets are as low as A$6 for sessions with low attendance, but average A$10.50. Prices vary depending on the film's popularity and session sales. Choovie has been around for just over a year and has added extra cinemas in that period. Dendy and Majestic cinema chains are among the 69 Australian cinemas currently signed up. They charge exhibitors A$1.25 per ticket sold and the majority of tickets sold are for daytime sessions. They are now looking at expanding into New Zealand.

A little-known war story is that of the 20-person Vienna Boys Choir and their visit to Australia for concerts in 1939. At the end of their tour, war broke out and they were declared enemy aliens. The Archbishop of Melbourne took them under his wing and found them homes while they were retained in Australia. They also became part of his choir. The choirmaster, Dr. George Gruber, became active in the music scene in Australia, but was arrested for having suspected Nazi contacts in 1941 and deported to Austria in 1947. He was later cleared by a de-Nazification tribunal. The 20 boy members of the choir remained in Australia.

Jack Savige has written a screenplay, Stranded, based on the events, to be produced by Lance Reynolds and Icon Films. Although no casting has been announced, Chris Hemsworth has been approached to play Dr Gruber. 

Ridley Scott's Scott Free Productions, Red Lamp Films and Australian writer-director Kim Mordaunt are currently working on the script adaptation of the Finnish children’s novel Monster Nanny by Tuutikki Tolonen. This family film focuses on a hairy, dusty monster who does not talk but is a children's nanny. The children soon find out that some of their friends also have similar very hairy nannys. Animal Logic will also be involved in this Australian-U.K. production.

In Marlene van Niekerk's novel Agaat, a 40-year relationship develops between a young white woman, Milla, and her black maidservant Agaat during the apartheid era in South Africa. Milla gets married, has a child and helps run the family's farm. As the years go by, the family falls apart, but Agaat remains and is now her caretaker. Jocelyn Moorhouse (The Dressmaker) is writing the script and will direct the film of Agaat for Bronte Pictures.

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