Independent cinemas in Australia and New Zealand join forces

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Independent cinema groups in Australia and New Zealand have combined in a historic trans-Tasman pact. The Independent Cinemas Association of Australia (ICAA) has joined up with Kiwi independent cinema group New Zealand Motion Picture Exhibitors Association (NZMPEA).Independent cinema groups in Australia and New Zealand have combined in a historic trans-Tasman pact. The Independent Cinemas Association of Australia (ICAA) has joined up with Kiwi independent cinema group New Zealand Motion Picture Exhibitors Association (NZMPEA). Under the terms of the pact, the New Zealand exhibitors will become members of the Australian Association with a permanent seat on the ICAA board. This new group will represent over 600 screens at 160 cinema locations and almost 30% of their gross national box office.

"The film industry is a global industry and many of the issues that affect exhibitors locally are increasingly being played out on a global stage," said ICAA chief executive Mark Safarty. "This historic affiliation between Australia and New Zealand is a response to the fact that independent cinemas in both countries face many of the same challenges and working together we will be able to present an Australasian regional response to those challenges.”
There are also close distribution ties between the two countries. Several Australia-based distributors have offices in New Zealand and vice versa. New Zealand-based distributor Rialto is having great success with the subtitled Swedish film of the bestselling novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, now in its 14th week of release in Australia. Meanwhile, Hoyts distribution is enjoying the huge success of its Twilight series in both countries.

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A recent newcomer to the New Zealand distribution scene, Curious Film announced plans to release films in Australia starting with the Sundance Jury winner Winter's Bone later this year. The film recently screened at the Sydney Film Festival. Curious Distribution director Michael Wrenn said he has acquired three titles and plans on more quality films. "Old distribution models and established distributors operating on high overheads mean a class of quality films are no longer getting released theatrically.”

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A number of local films have performed well at the box office this year. Bran Nue Dae (which has just been picked up for U.S. release) tops with a gross of over A$7.5 million, followed by Wog Boy 2: The Kings of Mykonos now approaching A$5 million. The war film Beneath Hill 60 has passed A$3 million and crime thriller Animal Kingdom is fast approaching that amount. Seven local releases have surpassed $2 million at mid-year, a better-than-average result.

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