Oz-on favorite: Australia Movie Convention to focus on post-digital cinema experience


The 2013 Australian International Movie Convention (AIMC) will take place Oct. 14-17 at the Pavilion Convention Centre and Jupiters Casino on the fabulous Gold Coast. The marks a change from the usual August dates, so I asked Michael Hawkins, executive director of the National Association of Cinema Operators-Australasia (NACO), about the shift.

“A decision was made to move the date in order to better accommodate the latest releases from the film studios,” Hawkins reports. “August was an awkward time of the year—too late for summer releases which now appear on our screens day-and-date, and some argued too early for the Christmas releases. We hope distribution might have even better access to the latest releases and content. And if not, then we can say with some certainty that the weather will be far more appealing! We are in Queensland after all—beautiful one day, perfect the next!”

The convention has been held at a number of venues over its long history. As the size of the event grew, it moved to ever-larger venues.

Hawkins spoke about the present venue: “The move to Jupiters Hotel & Casino at Broadbeach in 2009 was an initiative designed to amalgamate all convention activities—film screenings, seminars, trade show and networking functions—in one venue. Adding to the convenience, this offered the opportunity for the majority of delegates to stay on-site if they wished, or in alternate accommodation in close proximity in the Broadbeach area.

“Last year, Jupiters completed over $20 million worth of improvements to the Jupiters Theatre—virtually a complete facelift. An added bonus is that Jupiters Hotel & Casino is located in the heart of Broadbeach with its shopping, dining and beaches just minutes away.”

What can an international delegate expect at the event? “The AIMC brings exhibitors, distributors, producers and allied trades and suppliers together in one place for four days—and provides an opportunity for industry participants to make a smart investment in their businesses.

“The trade show offers our allied businesses the chance to showcase the latest equipment and trends from the international market. With digitization almost complete, what will be next to ensure the optimum patron experience?”

Hawkins continues, “The film distributors are able to present their upcoming product slate to the key decision-makers in the exhibition market via presentations and screenings. Our guest speakers and presenters update delegates on international trends affecting not only the industry but also a range of topics relating to business in general.

“Networking functions provide an invaluable opportunity for delegates to interact with their peers in a social atmosphere. These range from an awards dinner hosted by AIDA members, a fun film trivia challenge, a Box Office Awards luncheon recognizing achievements for the preceding year, a gala convention wrap party, and an exclusive delegate bar each evening.”

Hawkins notes, “We will enjoy film presentations from each of the six major distributors, three independent distributors and a dinner presentation from the members of AIDA. Full registrations include all convention activities including distributor presentations and movie screenings, seminars, the trade show, evening functions (excluding Wednesday), breakfasts and lunches. The Premiere Film Event on Sunday evening, October 13, is also included; however, as the Vista Entertainment Solutions Golf Challenge (during the day on Sunday the 13th) is a charity event, participants are required to pay extra for this.

“The AIMC also offers daily registrations which include all convention activities covering meals, receptions, films, seminars and the trade show for the day and evening of the registered day. Evening function registrations cover the evening meal and any other convention activities after five p.m. for the day of registration only. This could include films, the trade show, awards ceremonies or seminars, depending on the program.”

There are usually two high-profile speakers each year. The Monday speaker is still to be revealed, but the Wednesday program will welcome Bernard Salt, KPMG Partner, best-selling author and twice-weekly columnist for The Australian. Salt’s address is entitled “Managing and Engaging Generation Y: How Demographic Shifts Are Changing the Mass Market in Australia.”

“In this keynote presentation,” Hawkins elaborates, “Bernard Salt provides his powerful demographic take on how the Australian consumer market is changing. Generation Y, now pushing out of the family home in their 20s and into their 30s, are looking for something different. Not so much stories about their stage in the lifecycle, but stories that connect with their values, their challenges, their time in life. Ys have been parodied as the special generation. And Salt shares funny examples of how that works. But more than that, Ys are anti-hierarchical; they look for chaotic connection. Ys want to see creativity, connectivity and above all hope and aspiration for the future. This makes Generation Y challenging to manage and to retain. Salt offers strategies for working with the Ys. Other shifts in the Australian population show a growing cosmopolitanness: more Asian, more aspirational, more global; less manufacturing, less uneducated. The Australian demographic is normalizing to global standards, according to Salt. This means an even greater resonance of global values with the Australian market. Bernard Salt is a compelling and dynamic speaker. His session is not to be missed.”

The Gold Coast is Australia's major beach resort, with over 70 kilometers of beautiful coastline, world-class golfing facilities, sophisticated shopping and dining facilities within walking distance of the convention site, and a lush green Hinterland not far away. If coming with your family, there are plenty of theme parks nearby including Warner Bros. Movie World and Dreamworld to keep them entertained while you attend the conference. With 300 days of sunshine a year and an average temperature of 25 degrees Celsius (77 Fahrenheit), it is no wonder the region draws 10.5 million visitors a year.

AIMC has organized special rates at Jupiters Hotel and Casino. Jupiters offers a range of accommodations from standard rooms featuring either a king-sized bed or two double beds; Executive rooms; an Executive Lounge located on the 18th floor; Club Suites with small balconies; Ocean Terrace Suites with sun terraces; and King Terrace Suites with sun terraces. Four rooms with wheelchair-accessible facilities including wide bathroom access with handrails are available.

The AIMC has negotiated special room rates for delegates across the four days of the convention plus pre and post days if required. A standard room is $209 (including GST) per night and Executive rooms start at $309 (including GST).

Delegates not wishing to stay at Jupiters Hotel & Casino have many alternate accommodation options within the Broadbeach precinct, and only a short walk or monorail ride to Jupiters. These range from three to five-star hotels, boutique hotels, resorts, and one to three-bedroom self-contained serviced apartments, many offering ocean views, or just a few minutes’ walk away from beaches and parks.

The Australian International Movie Convention is supported by the Queensland government through Tourism and Events Queensland as part of a growing calendar of sporting, cultural and regional events across the state.

For more information on the convention and accommodations, check out the website www.movieconvention.com.au.

A Brief History of the AIMC

For most of its 70 years, the Australian International Movie Convention was organized by the Motion Picture Exhibitors Association of Queensland (MPEAQ), but in the last few years a national organization, NACO, was formed, and it is now the major cinema organization in Australia. As Michael Hawkins recounts, “A national association of cinema operators did not happen overnight. For the past 70 years, cinema exhibition was represented by various state associations, independent associations, trade associations, employer associations and state chambers of commerce, but never by a national association made up entirely of cinema exhibitors.

“NACO evolved out of the Motion Picture Exhibitors Association of Queensland, which was incorporated in 1947 and continues to host the annual AIMC as part of this long tradition and as a service to the film industry in the Australia/Pacific region.

“There has been a very significant investment by exhibitors in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific region, with over 2,000 screens in nearly 500 locations in Australia and over 400 screens in New Zealand. More than 10,000 people are employed in the cinema industry, and the big screen consistently rates as one of the top social outings for all demographics.

“NACO’s primary objective is to protect this very substantial investment made by its members. It is an organization for all exhibitors—majors, independents, multi-screen, single-screen or drive-in—from the city or the country, and it represents all member exhibitors, irrespective of their size or structure, in genuine, whole-of-industry issues. These issues could include film theft, licensing fees, film classification, collapsing of windows, and digitization.

“Movie theft, or piracy, costs our industry and our economies billions of dollars, and too many people their jobs and livelihoods. The industry is taking very active steps to protect itself, and NACO supports the activities of the two key agencies in Australia working to protect the industry—the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft [AFACT] and the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation [IPAF]—as well as with the film distributors through the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia [MPDAA] and the Australian Independent Distributors Association [AIDA]. We also work with international organizations such as the National Association of Theatre Owners and the Motion Picture Association of America in the U.S.”