Exhib expansion

Oz-based Hoyts plans U.S., int'l growth

SYDNEY — Hoyts Cinemas CEO Peter Ivany is relocating to the company’s Boston office for six months to spearhead its fast-track expansion in the U.S. and internationally.

Pointing to the spate of takeovers and mergers of U.S. circuits, Ivany predicts the top five exhibs will control 70% to 80% of the domestic market within two or three years — and he wants to ensure Hoyts is one of them.

Hoyts’ U.S. loop consists of 878 screens, all in the Northeast, and it expects to grow to more than 1,000 by mid-1998. Hoyts chairman David Gonski said at the company’s annual general meeting Nov. 19 that Hoyts has just signed a letter of intent to buy a 47-screen chain, which he did not name.

Ivany ruled out Hoyts buying a large U.S. circuit, indicating it prefers to acquire smaller groups, but hinted its Stateside interests could become part of a large financial player in which it would retain a shareholding.

As another reason for moving to Boston, Ivany said he wants to widen the base of Hoyts’ U.S. institutional investors. In the fiscal year ending July 3, Hoyts’ U.S. B.O. revenues grew by 10.9% against an industry average of 5.4%, Ivany said.

Hoyts currently operates a total of 1,270 screens in Australia, the U.S., New Zealand, Mexico and Chile; it’s building cinemas in Argentina, the U.K. and Austria; and has pegged its first two multiplex sites in Germany. It projects it will have close to 1,500 screens worldwide next year.

Big additions

Gonski confirmed two major additions to its Sydney cinemas: a 12-plex on Broadway and a 16-screener within the Fox Studios Australia entertainment precinct.

The latter will have 4,000 seats and be designed and decorated to celebrate Hollywood and Fox’s heritage.

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