Becker picks up Dendy

SYDNEY — Ending weeks of speculation, film and TV producer-distrib the Becker Group confirmed late Tuesday it had acquired the Dendy arthouse film exhibition and distribution group, this despite emphatic denials by Dendy principal Lyn McCarthy on Monday.

Nonetheless, McCarthy and her partner, Graeme Tubbenhauer, will continue to manage Dendy as a separate businesses unit of Becker, whose other interests include L.A.-based Becker FilmWorks.

The deal, which is expected to be completed in August, includes Dendy’s four Sydney and two Brisbane screens. For Becker, which last year brought in about $20 million from an IPO and stock exchange listing, the acquisition of Dendy’s cinemas should ensure better placement of films from its REP distribution arm.

While insiders denied persistent rumors Dendy was in debt, the group no longer corners the arthouse market like it did a decade ago, owing to pressure from rival indie exhib-distrib Palace (which has substantial financial backing from exhib-distrib major Village Roadshow, which in turn has also started showing some arty fare on selected screens) and distribs Globe and NewVision.

Lack of hits

And last year’s expansion of Dendy’s Sydney circuit coincided with a distinct lack of hits, the last being “Once Were Warriors” and “Like Water for Chocolate.”

“The acquisition will enhance Becker’s presence in theatrical film distribution in the Australian market and provide the platform for the development of strategic alliances with other exhibitors to further strengthen the quality film circuit,” Becker managing director Richard Becker said.

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