You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Oz distribs jostle for pix

10 groups competing for product and playdates

SYDNEY — Competition among distribs in Australia is set to become even fiercer as video distrib Magna Pacific has begun acquiring and releasing pics theatrically and New Zealand-based Rialto Entertainment has opened an office in Melbourne as it ramps up its slate.

This means more than 10 distribs are competing for product and playdates in a market where around 75% of the B.O. is controlled by the U.S. majors.

The competition doesn’t faze Magna Pacific exec director Leon Coningham, who points to his firm’s strong cash flow and its strength as a DVD distrib, supplying product to more than 6,000 stores in Oz.

Magna estimates its video revenues account for around 7% of that burgeoning business and believes there is plenty of room to grow as DVD hardware penetration is 58%.

Magna is keen to acquire 8-12 theatrical pics per year, mostly genre titles, after the amicable end of its joint venture with fellow indie Becker, for which Becker bought the films and the two shared P&A costs. That split happened after Becker and Magna agreed to sell back the shares each held in the other.

Magna’s first cinema release, rock ‘n’ roll doc “Festival Express,” bowed Nov. 18, and for 2005 the firm has collared U.S. pics “Just Friends,” a romantic comedy starring Ryan Reynolds and Amy Smart, “Boy Eats Girl,” “Bubba Ho-Tep,” and Kiwi-lensed thriller “Perfect Creatures.”

With the move into the theatrical biz, Magna recently tapped Brendan Maher, formerly group programming manager of Brisbane-based Australian Multiplex Cinemas, as national sales manager, exhibition and television.

Rialto Entertainment is looking to bump up its releases to 12-14 annually after averaging 8-10 in the past few years, according to chief exec Kelly Rogers. Earlier this month Rialto hired Mike Vile as general manager of its Australasian ops to help facilitate its expansion.

Rialto, which has 22 screens in New Zealand in partnership with Village Sky Cinemas, aims to enter exhibition in Oz, either as a joint venture with an existing operator or by building on undeveloped sites.

Although Australia is well served with upscale cinemas, Rogers notes most that play crossover product and he sees a niche for the quality Rialto brand. He aims to grow to 20-30 screens here over the next 4-5 years.

At the recent American Film Market, Rialto collared “The Machinist,” “Mean Creek,” “The Queen of Sheba’s Pearls” and “Last Days,” augmenting its 2005 slate which already included “The Woodsman” and “Maria Full of Grace.”

Rogers is working on plans to enter distribution in the U.S. by the middle of next year and the U.K by late 2005 and is mulling the best way of gaining a foothold in those territories.

More Film

  • WGA Awards 2019 Winners

    WGA Awards 2019: Bo Burnham Wins Original Screenplay Award for 'Eighth Grade'

    In a stunning upset, Bo Burnham has won the original screenplay award for “Eighth Grade” from the Writers Guild of America. He credited star Elsie Fisher for his winning the award. Burnham won over Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma”; Adam McKay’s “Vice”; Bryan Woods, Scott Beck, and John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place”; and Peter Farrelly, Nick Vallelonga, [...]

  • Alita Battle Angel

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' No Match for China's 'Wandering Earth' Overseas

    Hollywood movies like “Alita: Battle Angel” and “How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World” are doing respectable business overseas, but they’re proving no match for foreign titles at the international box office. The Chinese New Year is bringing in huge business in the Middle Kingdom. China’s sci-fi epic “The Wandering Earth” pulled in a [...]

  • ABA_062_DAU_0060_v0409.87501 – Rosa Salazar stars as

    Box Office: 'Alita: Battle Angel' Wins Dismal President's Day Weekend

    Fox’s sci-fi adventure “Alita: Battle Angel” dominated in North America, but its opening weekend win isn’t leaving the box office with much to celebrate. Tracking services estimate that this will be one of the lowest grossing President’s Day weekends in years. Ticket sales are on pace to be the smallest bounty for the holiday frame [...]

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content