StudioCanal acquires Hoyts distribution arm


Before the 1960s, film distribution in Australia and New Zealand was dominated by the major American and British distributors with a few small art-house companies. That started to change in the 1960s with Roadshow expanding from a growing exhibition circuit to encompass distribution as well. A good number of other companies also entered the field, bringing added vibrancy and a wider selection of film choice to consumers. But success brings foreign attention, and last year the international production and distribution company Entertainment One purchased Aussie independent Hopscotch.

Just over ten years ago, Hoyts Corporation also set up a distribution arm, Hoyts Distribution, and in recent years has had great success with both the Saw franchise and the Twilight series. This distribution sector of Hoyts Group has now been acquired by the French production and distribution company StudioCanal. In announcing the purchase, Olivier Courson, chairman and CEO of StudioCanal, said, "We are very happy to develop direct operations in Australia, one of the most dynamic markets in the world, with the very experienced and talented team of Hoyts, led by Robert Slaviero. We believe there are strong opportunities in this territory for our films." David Kirk, chairman of the Hoyts Group, added, "Hoyts Distribution is a successful and well-established business in Australia and New Zealand and we are delighted they are joining a powerful global player in StudioCanal."

Even with this influx of overseas companies, new local distributors continue to emerge, the latest being Greenlight Releasing. Film acquisition veteran Michael Wrenn, in announcing the establishment of the company, said that they plan to release about six to eight films a year with a mix of local and international features. The Ryan Kwanten movie Mystery Road, which we spoke about in the last issue, and the currently filming Christina Ricci drama Around the Block are the first two films announced for Greenlight.

American audiences and Australian audiences are often very similar in film tastes, with many movies ending in the top ten box-office lists of both countries. But there are some surprising differences. In the U.S., The Amazing Spider-Man has easily outgrossed Ted, which was released around the same time. They were also released simultaneously in Australia, but Ted has grossed almost double the take of Spidey here and looks to be one of the top ten grossers of the year. Although it has nothing to do with the results, the animation for the title Teddy bear was done by Aussie special-effects company Iloura in conjunction with Tippet Studios in California.

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