Movies popular but many saving on snacks

18:47, Jul 13 2014

American movie box office takings may be plummeting but New Zealanders are still flocking to the flicks, with top 20 takings remaining steady over the last two years.

The pivotal American summer season is down 20 per cent on last year, but figures from the New Zealand Motion Picture Distributors' Association show accumulated top 20 box office takings for 2014 are currently tracking at $95 million, on a par with last year.

The top 20 films took in about $6m last week, an increase of about $1m on the same time last year.

But general manager of Wellington's Roxy cinema Cesar Breton said moviegoers were saving pennies where they could with sales of lollies and popcorn significantly down.

"We've had an overall increase of 4 or 5 per cent on last year but spend per person is down by about 11 per cent. From our perspective we've been busier than last year even though it's been warmer."

Moviegoer Neil Brown, visiting Wellington with son Cougan, said their family went to the movies about twice a year.


"It's reasonable, I suppose. For us it's a school holiday treat."

For a family of two adults and two children, a trip to the movies with drinks and snacks can cost about $60, even with a family discount during the school holidays.

University student Alice LaHatte said movies were unaffordable, even with a student discount. "I normally bring food because movie snack prices are ridiculously high."

Penthouse cinema manager Kate Larkindale said she had noticed a decline in the numbers of university-aged moviegoers over the years.

"Our audience tends to be older and they've got into the movie-going habit, but at other places I've worked you notice the university students don't come to the movies like they used to."

But the industry remains profitable, even with people downloading or streaming movies at home, she said.

"I think it's sustainable, at the moment there's enough good movies coming out that people want to see . . . going to the cinema and watching it with a crowd is always going to be a better experience."

Proving that New Zealand movies can keep up with the pack, Taika Waititi's What We Do in the Shadows continues to hold its own against the Hollywood summer releases, currently sitting at third place in the box office. The homegrown-hit has earned a total of $1.7m to date. But this week's No 1 spot was retained by blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction, which made $1.4m. In total about $174.9m worth of movie tickets were sold in New Zealand last year.


The price of a family trip to the flicks:

Courtenay Pl, Wellington, prices:

School holiday special*: 2 adults and 2 kids $42.00 total

2 regular drink and popcorn combos $8.20 each

Total: $58.40

*for 2D family movies

Regular prices (peak prices, excluding online booking fee)

2 adults $16.00 each

2 children $10.50 each

2 regular drink and popcorn combos $8.20 each

Total $69.40