Hoyts Corporation buys Berkeley Cinema Group


The first three items in this month's column come from New Zealand, land of four million people and 40 million sheep.

Hoyts Corporation, currently with two complexes in New Zealand's largest city Auckland, is buying the Berkeley Cinema Group from Everard Entertainment. Berkeley has 21 screens across four cinema complexes in Auckland. The purchase will increase Hoyts’ New Zealand cinema circuit from seven multiplexes and 49 screens to 11 multiplexes totaling 70 screens. The purchase price was not disclosed.

Boy has become the top-grossing New Zealand comedy of all time. It has just passed the NZ$4.075 million mark earned by Sione's Wedding, and looks to rise higher. Boy is an 11-year-old who lives on a farm with his grandmother, his younger brother and a goat. His father unexpectedly arrives and it turns out that he is not quite the heroic figure Boy imagined him to be.

A recent issue of FJI reported on CNN attacking popcorn prices. The same has happened in New Zealand recently, and popcorn is again getting the lion’s share of the attention. But the story appeared one day in the newspapers and disappeared after that.

Alan Finney has resigned from his position as Walt Disney Studios Australia VP and managing director. Finney had been with the company for 12 years and before that was with Roadshow. The resignation follows a restructuring at Disney Australia.

War films are having a comeback in Australia. Television is busy showing the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks-produced “The Pacific,” although it is being beaten in the ratings by reality show “Master Chef.” Currently in cinemas is Beneath Hill 60, a strange but true World War I tale. A group of miners were hired by the Army to tunnel under the Western front in Europe and blow up an enemy base. Coming later in the year is the fictional Tomorrow, When the World Began, based on the book by John Marsden. A group of teenagers return from a camping trip in the Australian outback to discover that enemy forces have invaded the country and imprisoned everyone in town. The film is the directorial debut of screenwriter Stuart Beattie (Australia, Collateral, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl).

A number of Australian directors with international films under their belts have returned home in recent years. The latest is Fred Schepisi (Roxanne, I.Q.), who has begun shooting his first feature film in Australia in more than a decade: The Eye of the Storm, based on the book by Patrick White.

E-mail your Australia/New Zealand news items to David Pearce at insidemovies@hotmail.com.