Movie distributor sold to French firm

WILLIAM MACE
Last updated 16:27 18/07/2012

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Kiwi cinema-goers could be seeing more French film fare after Europe's largest film company Studio Canal announced today it has bought the Hoyts Distribution business across Australasia.

The Hoyts Cinema chain as moviegoers know it will remain the same, however.

Only the film distribution business has been sold by parent company Hoyts Group.

Hoyts Distribution boasts a film library containing over 120 titles, including the Saw series of films and the Twilight franchise.

Hoyts Group chairman and former All Black captain David Kirk said Hoyts' exhibition arm would continue a close relationship with the Studio Canal-owned subsidiary.

Studio Canal said the purchase of Hoyts would ''strengthen the exploitation of its catalogue'' in Australasia.

Hoyts Distribution's local marketing director Elizabeth Trotman said her four-person Auckland office was decorated with red, white and blue balloons in honour of the change of ownership.

"Having a very big, reputable, experienced film company, the biggest in Europe with some very exciting productions in their pipeline, we feel very excited about our future with them."

She said Hoyts Group's core business had always been exhibiting movies and it needed to focus on converting cinemas into the new digital format.

"They're undergoing a lot of changes with the digital roll-out in their cinemas, so the investment required to do that is significant and obviously they continue to refurbish their sites across Australia and New Zealand so they need ongoing investment for that.

"The biggest challenge [for the industry] at the moment is the digital transition, but I foresee in twelve months time that all of those challenges we face now will have been ironed out."

Trotman said the existing Hoyts stable of films would be complemented by French and European films but said Studio Canal was also actively developing English-language films.

"Yes, I think there will be European films, but remember that French films do incredibly well in New Zealand - we've had huge results with the likes of La Vie En Rose, My Afternoons with Margueritte and we've got Le Chef releasing in August."

Canal also produced Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and is involved in the upcoming Paddington Bear movie.
"It's a positive step forward for us, and for New Zealand film distribution, and for the marketplace and the consumer and their choice," Trotman said.

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- BusinessDay.co.nz

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