New Zealand earthquake-impacted cinemas earn industry awards


Two cinemas that were affected by the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011 have received top marks from their patrons. The New Zealand Motion Picture Industry Council conducts an annual award for best NZ cinemas in conjunction with the website and patrons voted for the best cinemas nationwide. The Palms Reading Cinemas eight-plex was voted best chain cinema for the second year in a row. The cinema is a short distance from the Christchurch central business district and was closed for nine months after the earthquake. Best independent cinema of the year was won by the Hollywood Cinema in the beautiful beachside suburb of Sumner in Christchurch. This cinema closed for a short time after the earthquake, but reopened after a detailed engineering evaluation report gave it the all-clear. The cinema shows a mixture of art-house and mainstream films and has been run by Lang and Maureen Masters since the early 1960s. They twinned the cinema in 1976 and converted it to a three-plex in 1999. The cinemas have 169, 60 and 108 seats. Lang said the award was "quite an honor.”

Both cinemas are currently showing the new NZ vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows from Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. This film had some very positive reviews from Sundance and Berlin and opens later this year in Europe.
The team behind the highly successful Aussie film Red Dog are planning to follow up with two semi-sequels. Blue Dog is a fresh and original story set in a similar location to Red Dog and it will start filming later this year. A third film, Yellow Dog, is currently at script stage.
Australia has a long history of animation and has had a number of successes over the years, most recently with The Lego Movie. Western Australian animators The Vue Group has teamed with Shanghai Hippo Animation Design to make three animated features. The first film, Kung Fu Style, will get a wide release in China followed by an international release. Casting is now underway for English-language voices. The second film, Perfect Friends, is currently in production.
Introduced rabbits, camels and horses have thrived in Australia in the wild, so much so that they have become pests and culling programs have been introduced. Wild horses, known as brumbies, have become numerous in some national parks. In an effort to reduce the numbers, two men were hired to relocate a mass of brumbies from a Sydney water catchment area of the Blue Mountains National Park. A documentary on this effort has become a surprise hit at many rural Australian cinemas and is now looking at a city release. The Man From Cox's River was first given a test run at the wonderful Mt. Vic Flicks in the Blue Mountains. It sold out nine weeks in a row at this cinema and has also succeeded at other regional cinemas. Word spreads quickly in the Australian exhibition industry, and other regional cinemas are now calling the distributor to book the film.

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