LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: November 2000
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WE WANT IT NOW!
I was wondering the other day about Australian movie release dates (as I often do).
We get the huge budget movies roughly the same time as the US do right? And the rest of
the movies (three or five hundred or so) get a release if and when the movie makes enough
money at the US box office, otherwise its STV.
So what really I'm asking is, why, (apart from the fact that the people who make the
decision as to what's released in Australia and when are only bean counters) doesn't
Australia get films when Australians want them?
Its a simple rule of supply and demand. We don't want Chicken Run seven months
after everyone else in the world gets it, we want it roughly the same time. Its not really
a matter of economics, 'cos Chicken Run would have cleared up in June just as much as it
would make in December if not more so.
What people watch in America is not got all that much to what we in Austrlia are going to
watch. Although what happens at the US box office dictates what we get and when, I don't
think thats fair. What are we, a distant state of America? (Don't answer that).
We need to have people making these decisions based on more than money, 'cos that's just
not enough. Although it is a business, its also the business of providing what the public
want. It wouldn't take much reseach to find that most Australian film goers are completly
irritated and pissed off with the second-rate treatment we get.
I can't count the number of times I've seen a movie at the cinema with a awful, obviously
second-hand print from the US. Scratch's all over the picture, sound less than brilliant.
All this, accompanied with poor distribution of the quality films, stupid projectionists
who aren't even old enough to drive (and spend most of their time tearing tickets), dirty
seats, annoying school kids and inflated GST prices.
I still love the cinema and go often, but simple rules of supply and demand will
eventually catch up and kill of most cinemas unless they wake up and give us what we want.
Also, I find your release dates section helpful, if not always entirely accurate. I know
its up to the distributors not to be completely ignorant and actually know what's coming
out when and tell you, and I do have to say your list is one of the most accurate on the
However, Autumn in New York opened in Melb on the 16th. Not previews but regular, seven
days a week screenings. Why do distributors make so many last minute changes and why is it
so difficult to get information as to whats screening when? We are the fans and all we
want is information, not trade secrets.
Ed says: The scratched prints and poor cinema conditions are, sadly, home
grown problems, not imported. Wouldn’t want to comment on distribution and release
policies, except to say that Australia is in fact usually better off than the rest of the
world for US release dates. As for opening dates, we do our best but they do move and
shuffle quite rapidly, each distributor trying to find the best ‘slot’ for their
films. We have often said that there are simply too many films being released, and the
studios have agreed, but have never done anything about it.
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN CANBERRA
Why are you advertising free passes to Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon to people in
other capital cities but not including Canberra? It is almost one hundred years since we
became a federation! Surely we have some legitimacy by now. We also have a struggle to
keep open our independent cinemas so some free publicity for the excellent Ronin Cinemas
would not go astray.
Andrew replies: Dear Jack, You have our sympathies.... and our sincere
apologies. We (and/or the film distributors we work with on these things) simply can't
always include Canberra and Hobart and Darwin....various reasons, all of them pretty weak
for lovers of cinema! We haven't forgotten CAnberra, nor do we ignore it. We are very
aware of Andrew Pike at Ronin and glad you feel strongly about movies. Best wishes
I have told some friends in Alaska about The Dish. When will they be able to see
Louise says: Roadshow has advised that Warner Bros has the distribution rights
in the US, and presume that Alaska would fall under this banner also. They are not able to
confirm release date.
BOX OFFICE & GST
CINEMA CHAINS DENY COLLUSION
See NEWS STORY
After discussing box office figures with a friend, we were wondering about the
effect of the GST on box office figures.
Can you tell me whether Australian GST (and any other taxes) is included in the gross box
office figures declared by distributors? Logic suggests that it is, but this would skew
the figures since July by about 10ish percent. Just wondering if any adjustments are done
anywhere by any one, when making comparisons between films.
On this subject - are records kept or revealed on actual admissions rather than dollars -
which would make comparisons over time much easier. I know that admission numbers and box
office are reported to distributors each day by the cinemas.
Ed: GST included? Yes they are: the box office figures from July 1, 2000 are not
directly comparable to previous figures in strict dollar terms. The statistical situation
is made more complicated by the fact that ticket prices did not go up by a flat 10% across
the board. Some of the increase was absorbed as internal savings were calculated
(presumably in such areas as sales tax). No adjustments are – or can be – done,
according to our industry sources. As for admissions, some distributors do have them, but
the Motion Picture Distributors Assocation has given up trying to collate these as not
everyone was co-operative. In the past, we have done some analysis using average ticket
prices for each year to estimate admissions – and indeed, have re-ranked film
popularity as a result. But we don’t have the resources to do it at present. The
national average ticket price was $7.28 or so prior to the GST; we hope to have a new
average by the end of December.
See NEWS STORY
I am writing to you to comment about the recent change in "terms and conditions for
use" of Hoyts 'movie money' and Greater Union/Village 'screen savers'. Prior to the
introduction of the GST (Goods and Services Tax), these books of movie tickets could be
used on Saturday evenings. However, after the introduction of the GST, these three major
cinema chains changed the terms and conditions (at the same time) of these discount
that they could not be used after 5 pm on Saturday's. I believe that these cinema chains
have acted in a collusive manner, in an anti-competitive manner. They are in breach of the
Trades Practice Act, which basically states that businesses should not engage in practices
that inhibit competition. Have you received any other correspondence on this matter?
Looking forward to receiving your comments on this matter.
Sacha Temple, Vaucluse, Sydney
1. The company refutes any allegation of collusion and anti competitive
2. On the 1st of July, with the introduction of GST, Hoyts took the opportunity to review
conditions of redemption for Cinema Cash.
3. It adopted two Policies in terms of Saturday night redemption. In Victoria, there is no
restriction on Saturday night use whereas in the rest of Australia, there is a Saturday
4. We are still evaluating the market effect of this difference in policy. "
General Manager / Commercial, Hoyts Cinemas
Greater Union/Village cinemas introduced a new product - Screen Savers - on
July 1. The differences between this product and the product it replaced, Movie
Money, were flagged to corporate clients in early June. Our competitor responded with a
Nicki Martin, Communications Manager, Greater Union/Village
I'm most amused to see all the information on 15 Amore; I saw it months ago. My
local cinema, which I've never seen mentioned in the Sydney media, showed it on the big
screen months ago. Glenbrook Theatre is a fabulous one-screen independent, holding its own
despite a multiplex in Penrith. It shows big films and isn't afraid of smaller ones,
either - arthouse, foreign language (it had at least one of the Silkscreen titles
recently, for example). The
program changes almost every week, most weeks have two films showing, the choc-tops are
$1.60 and great, the staff courteous, knowledgeable and helpful. It's a gem.
I have no shares in it - I'm just a longtime happy repeat repeat repeat regular customer.
And I think it should get credit for supporting the wide range of films it does, including
Australian ones; though the distributors don't always like non-multiplex cinemas. It won a
national prize for film publicity work for its presentation of the original Babe film,
against all-comers, Australia wide. They're really fussy about things like sound, the
technicalities of presentation. It has a useful website and takes reservations - and the
most expensive ticket is $7. $10 for two films shown sequentially, including a free cup of
coffee/tea or box of fresh popcorn.
The Straight Story and High Fidelity are on very soon - can't wait.
Ed: Great to know and glad you took the trouble to write. For those who
don’t know, Glenbrook is a village in the Blue Mountains just West of Sydney.
Everything Ruth Buchanan says about the Glenbrook Theatre is true. It's a gem.
COMPETITIONS – THE QUESTION IS….
Bah….I still say those 25 word or less responses aren't the way to go for
competitions I much prefer trivia or questions pertaining to the film/video/dvd in
question. What are other people’s thoughts on this please reply in under 25 words or
If Peter Gatt prefers trivia to the 25 words of less model, he should take a look at The Odyssey Channel's website We offer a 15-question interactive quiz related to our programming each month.
The Odyssey Channel
The trouble with questions is that they are only a test of your web searching skills. Any question has the answer out there, if you can find it, even if you know nothing about the film/DVD/etc.
I have no solution, it really comes down to the judges. At least both questions of short answers do not exclude anyone. Contests where you have to do something, or take photos exclude those without camera, etc.
That's my 2 cents worth.
I personally think the best way is the 25 words or less option... the web makes it too easy to find the answer to even the most obscure questions. I think people don't like the 25 words cause sometimes the things you have to write about can be a little weird....
Ed: Weird questions? You should see some of the answers!
Send us your comments HERE
GLAD I FOUND YOU
I've just discovered your site and I enjoyed looking around. Read the reviews on
The Dish -- saw the film last night and loved it. I've always been a little ambivilent
towards the notion of space exploration and that "phallic triumph" as Auden
calls it -- the moon landing. I could never quite see the point. I love the mystery of the
unknown; why the need to bring the
moon closer, as close as our lounge rooms? I like it hanging so unfathomably far away.
Other films such as Apollo 13 only hardened my resolve to resist the magic. I think that
was because others have focused on the mechanics of the journey rather than tapping into
the romance of the venture. Rob Sitch et al allowed me for the first time to understand
what a wonderful thing it was by telling the story from the perspective of those back on
earth, watching in awe as the impossible happened. For the first time I realised what an
incredible risk it was. And the fact that it was able to be televised at all! They managed
to convey the magic of it all without destroying the mystery.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to visiting your site again soon.
Saw the movie "Shaft" to-day and read the reviews and my view all three are right on the
money as they were with the "Dish" and from memory the "Space
Cowboys". It is great to have reliable reviews to check with.
Regards from Dukivan.
Ed: Dukivan is one of tens of thousands of AOL members who have Urban
Cinefile content delivered to their AOL browser each week. And by the way, we'd publish
his letter even if he disagreed with us!
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