×

Hoyts back in pack

Exhib to distrib again, now for Packer's Nine

SYDNEY — In a move that bodes well for sellers of independent films to Australia, Kerry Packer’s search for corporate synergy has sparked the return of Hoyts Cinemas to the distrib biz.

The market has long been a tough nut for sellers, with Roadshow Film Distributors virtually the only game in town for sellers of top-shelf U.S. and British films, apart from the acquisition-minded local arms of the Hollywood majors.

But with Packer-run Nine Network’s recent commitment to investing in Oz feature films, Hoyts — bought by Packer’s private vehicle Consolidated Press Holdings in 1999 — will grow Hoyts Distribution, an output arm that will serve not only as a conduit for Nine but as a way to acquire and move international product through the various arms of the Packer empire.

Hoyts Cinemas CEO Paul Johnson told Daily Variety the plan is to release 10-15 titles annually: a mix of Australian films sourced from sister label Nine Films & Television and U.S., U.K. and foreign-lingo pickups.

Hoyts has tapped former 20th Century Fox vet Robert Slaviero to head Hoyts Distribution and already is negotiating its first acquisitions.

Slaviero, who stepped down last month after heading Fox Distributors’ Australian branch for five years, officially signs on at Hoyts Oct. 1, although he will rep the new entity at this month’s Australian Movie Convention on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

Johnson said he admired Slaviero’s savvy and negotiating skills during his tenure at Fox and jumped at the chance to hire him when he opted to leave the distrib.

Hoyts, which operates more than 400 screens in Australia and New Zealand, withdrew from the distrib biz in the late 1980s, but Johnson contends the biz has changed greatly from that era.

“In those days, there was more risk in terms of acquiring product,” he said. “Now it is easier to buy films when they are completed rather than at the script stage. And in Australia, we have more screens, a healthy local industry and a real culture of moviegoing.

Johnson expects Hoyts Distribution to be part of a one-stop shop for pics it acquires.

“Our biggest attribute as a distributor is we will be able to promote and market films across Hoyts Cinemas, the Nine Network, CPH’s magazines and ninemsn (the Internet co-venture with Microsoft),” Johnson said. “We bring a lot of added value.”

While Hoyts Distribution’s acquisition focus primarily will be on U.S. and U.K. films, Johnson expressed interest in buying foreign films, noting, for example, the success of local product at Hoyts’ circuits in Latin America. An acquisition exec will be hired soon.

“Dirty Deeds,” a crime caper starring Bryan Brown, Toni Collette and John Goodman — the first feature in which Nine invested — will bow via Hoyts late next year. Johnson says Nine Films & TV aims to produce three films per year.

Johnson expects Hoyts Distribution will handle three to five films next year, expanding to 10-15 titles in 2003. The banner also will release films in New Zealand. He added that he’s reviewing the options for routing Hoyts’ product on homevideo.

More Film

  • Ryan Simpkins

    Ryan Simpkins Joins Fox-Disney's 'Fear Street' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Ryan Simpkins has joined Fox-Disney’s second installment of 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment’s “Fear Street” trilogy, based on the novels by R.L. Stine. Leigh Janiak is helming all three films. Previously announced cast includes Gillian Jacobs, Sadie Sink, Emily Rudd, McCabe Slye, Kiana Madeira, Olivia Welch, Benjamin Flores Jr., Ashley Zukerman, Fred Hechinger, Julia [...]

  • MPAA Logo

    Motion Picture Association of America Hires Emily Lenzner as Communications Chief

    The Motion Picture Association of America has appointed veteran public relations executive Emily Lenzner as its executive VP of global communications and public affairs. She will report to Chairman and CEO Charles Rivkin and oversee the trade group’s communications team in the U.S. and internationally. Lenzner will start Aug. 1 and be based at the MPAA’s [...]

  • See Taylor Swift Unveil Feline Moves

    See Taylor Swift Unveil Feline Moves for First Time in 'Cats' Behind-the-Scenes Teaser

    Taylor Swift fans finally get to see some of the results of all those years spent studying her roommates Meredith and Olivia — and also, not incidentally, some time with a choreographer — in a new behind-the-scenes teaser for the movie “Cats.” The three-and-a-half-minute featurette has footage of Swift striking crouching feline moves as well [...]

  • CGR’s Immersive Premium Format Set for

    Immersive Theater Technology Set for US Debut in Los Angeles

    French multiplex company CGR Cinemas has selected the Regal LA Live as the first U.S. theater to use its Immersive Cinema Experience technology. The ICE format will be unveiled in the fall at the downtown location in a partnership between CGR and AEG. The companies made the announcement Wednesday but did not reveal which title [...]

  • Amazon Developing Original Series Based on

    Amazon Studios Buys 'Selah and the Spades,' Will Develop Original Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Amazon Studios has acquired worldwide rights to “Selah and the Spades,” a gripping look at a prep school drug dealer, Variety has learned. The film marks the feature debut of writer and director Tayarisha Poe and had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was a favorite with critics. Amazon has [...]

  • The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con

    The Ultimate Guide to 2019 Comic-Con Parties and Activations

    Hollywood is heading down the California coast to San Diego because It’s time for 2019 Comic-Con International. The annual cosplay celebration officially kicks off tomorrow, July 18, with a preview happening tonight. Here, Variety gives you a guide to this year’s parties and activations. Make sure to check back for updates. Wednesday, July 17Amazon Prime [...]

  • The Wound African Cinema Berlin Film

    Finance Forum Brings African WIP Into Focus at Durban FilmMart

    The 10th edition of the Durban FilmMart, which unspools parallel to the 40th Durban Intl. Film Festival, will feature 10 fiction and 10 documentary works-in-progress taking part in its annual Finance Forum. The leading co-production market on the continent, the Forum brings together producers, distributors, sales agents, broadcasters, funding bodies, and other industry players from across the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content