Suburban Multis Taking Biz From Aussie Urban Solos

While multiplexes unquestionably now underpin Australian exhibition, 1990 revenue results indicate their growth is increasingly at the expense of major city venues.

Since 1986,24 multiplexes opened Down Under, adding 178 non-metro screens to the business. That growth saw b.o. revenues jump 11.8% to $A270.24 million and admissions rise 11.7% to 40.9 million in 1990 (VARIETY, Jan. 21).

Of that total, according to the Motion Picture Distributors Assn. of Australia, suburban revenue jumped 39.33% to $A119.4 million. Country business grew 31.74% to $A49 million.

City revenues, however, dropped almost 5% to $A86.2 million. “It was bound to have an effect on city business,” says John Smith, chief g.m. at Greater Union, one of Australia’s three major exhibs. “The important thing is that more people are going, but there are more screens to soak that up. It’s now a question of trying to grow the whole business.”

Metro sites remain an essential profile raiser for the three exhibs while serving a different sort of audience. Majors’ flagships are still their Sydney and Melbourne complexes. On a per-screen basis they generally earn more (partially because of higher ticket prices), but they’re more expensive to run.

At Hoyts, which claims to have seven of the country’s top 10 multiplexes, Melbourne and Brisbane business is down 7% and 5% respectively, per theater operations g.m. Paul Johnson. But exec notes that marketing and programming initiatives have held off further drops, so that the decline is “in line with our expectations.”

Consolidation of remaining single city sites is also a priority. GU is aiming to replace six solos in Brisbane with a 6-plex in 1992, and it is opening a 5-plex in Adelaide in late March and shuttering two solos. And GU still is working with Village to combine their two major Sydney complexes into a 12-plex forming part of an office tower.

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