Cinemas still turn a profit in entertainment's internet age



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The Roxy in Miramar is one of New Zealand's leading independent cinemas.

New Zealand cinema-operators say ticket sales have held up in the face of online competitors like Netflix.

According to a Bayley's survey, New Zealand cinema operators were optimistic about their future, and are investing in new technology and facilities to remain competitive.

New Zealand cinema's were also bucking the global trend of slowing ticket sales, according to the survey.
EMILY SPINK/STUFF
Alice Cinematheque managing director Jeremy Stewart says movie streaming services could cause the release windows for films gets shorter.

The number of cinema screens per capita in New Zealand, one for every 10, was higher than Britain and Australia, but less that the United States.

Over 60 per cent of New Zealand cinema operators did not believe streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime were a threat to their business.

Almost as many said they had recently invested in upgrades to their cinemas, such as installing digital projectors, new screens, renovations, and offering dine-in services, luxury seating and alcohol.

STACY SQUIRES/STUFF
Alice's Cinematheque, an independent cinema in Christchurch plays film from festival around the world year-round.
Recent figures from Roy Morgan Research showed that almost 40 per cent of New Zealanders subscribed to a video on demand service.

A survey by movie guide website flicks.co.nz also found that 51 per cent of Kiwis regularly watched movies online, up from 41 per cent in 2011.

Of those 43 per cent admitted they usually watched movies from an illegal source.

The cinema owners were reportedly worried about the practice of illegal downloading, and have called on the Government to do more to curb it.
Bayley's national director John Church said the demise of video stores previously had serious implications for the real estate sector.

"Blockbuster Video was once the king of the home entertainment market, and at its peak it had 9094 stores worldwide.

"Now Blockbuster, and video rental stores like it, are no more and no longer have a bricks and mortar presence," he said.

"There is reason to believe that cinemas in New Zealand – which occupy a considerable chunk of real estate – can avoid that fate, with our survey indicating the industry is in good health and optimistic about its future."

Last year, the country's largest cinema chain, Event Cinemas, bought Palmerston North's Downtown Cinemas chain for $7.6 million, and announced plans to build a new cinema in Lower Hutt, following the demolition its nine-screen Queensgate cinema due to damage from last November's earthquake, Church said.

Christchurch's Alice Cinematheque managing director Julian Stewart said there was no doubt movie streaming services were having an impact, especially if the release window of film becomes shorter because of it.

"But it is our job as exhibitors to delight our customers in ways they cannot experience at home."

This could mean comfortable seats, fine wine, cheese boards, and rolled ice creams, he said.

Marketing manager at the Roxy Cinema in Miramar Erica Brooks said "Cinema exhibition is a tough business these days, particularly for independent cinemas".

Brooks said big chains like Reading or Event Cinemas have it a little easier because the chain model can offset some of their costs.

"As a small independent cinema, it means we have to be adaptable, dynamic and creative in our approach to cinema exhibition and events.

"Despite the immediate and convenient accessibility of film and television online, watching a classic film like Alien on your laptop or TV bears no comparison to the experience of watching it on the big screen, in a room full of film fans."

- Stuff
source-Business Day 

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