Magazine article Screen International

Shopping Trip

Magazine article Screen International

Shopping Trip

Article excerpt

Lucrative, stable and sophisticated - it's no surprise the Australia and New Zealand market is drawing foreign investors. Sandy George reports

The vibrant Australia and New Zealand distribution sector can be lucrative for independent films from the US and elsewhere. Operating as one market for independent distributors - and sellers - the Australian box office exceeded $1bn for each of the last three years, with New Zealand's box office worth more than $130m last year.

The market's buoyancy has pushed up competition for titles with crossover potential, and has sparked interest from foreign investors. Two significant Australian distribution companies are now in international hands: last year Canada's Entertainment One bought Hopscotch and this year French company StudioCanal bought Hoyts Distribution. Both buyers are putting together global distribution networks and were attracted by the market's strength, stability and robust currency.

"Australia/New Zealand is a very dynamic market with an incredibly strong talent pool," says Patrice Theroux, eOne's president of filmed entertainment. "The acquisition of Hopscotch not only provides us with a team well-recognised around the world and at home for their outstanding film choices and innovative marketing campaigns, but also greater access to the talented Australian creative community."

Theroux notes there is "still a very strong following for independent films in Australia", and contextualises the purchase in terms of the television and multi-platform opportunities the take-over delivers for eOne's international content and for Australian and New Zealand content being distributed by eOne. "We expect Hopscotch/eOne to release more films - we added Summit and Lakeshore to our existing relationships in Australia and have augmented the acquisition budget," Theroux explains.

Hoyts will also be releasing more films. Fresh from visiting StudioCanal offices in Paris and London, long-standing Hoyts chief executive Robert Slaviero says the number of films released will rise to about 15 in 2013 and as many as 20 in 2014.

"StudioCanal is already in Germany, France and the UK, a market with a lot of synergies with us, and it was logical for them to look at the Asia Pacific," says Slaviero on StudioCanal's move. "Australia is a dynamic territory in the top 10 worldwide. Why wouldn't you buy in?"

'Australia/New Zealand is a very dynamic market with an incredibly strong talent pool'Patrice Theroux, eOne

StudioCanal's pipeline of quality English-language production is also well suited to the Australian and New Zealand market. …

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