The Dominion Post
A box-office bonanza
Ticket sales were up at the Kiwi box office last year, with the third Hobbit instalment helping to boost the total in the home stretch, writes Tom Cardy.
SIR PETER JACKSON’S The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies has also won the battle of the Kiwi box office. Figures released by the Motion Picture Distributors’ Association show that the film was the biggest grossing film in New Zealand last year.
The movie earned $6.1 million, in the last three weeks of 2014, beating The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 ($5.8m) which was the second most popular film of the year.
The blockbusters also helped the country’s cinemas break admissions records, earning a new high of $183m. The previous record was $176.5m in 2010. Earnings were also up by 5 per cent on 2013, when the biggest film was Iron Man 3.
All of the films in the top 10 were fantasy or science fiction, with the exception of drama Philomena.
While The Battle of the Five Armies was largely shot in Wellington and Wellington’s Weta Digital did the visual effects for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, no New Zealand-set or themed film made the top 10.
This was despite several good performers in 2014, including the Wellington-set mockumentary What We Do in the Shadows and dramas The Dark Horse and The Dead Lands.
However, What We Do in the Shadows earned more than $2.5m, about double that of Mt Zion, the top Kiwi film of 2013.
After eight weeks The Battle of the Five Armies, which is still screening in some cinemas, has grossed $7.9m.
Distributors’ Association chairman Andrew Cornwell says while the total box office take had increased in 2014, the sum contributed by the top 10 films to the total was less than that from the top 10 in 2013.
Cornwell says it showed that New Zealanders had a ‘‘thirst for a wide-ranging selection of content’’ outside blockbusters.
The number of admissions was also likely to have increased from about 14.5 million tickets sold in 2013 to about 15 million last year.
But Cornwell says it’s tricky to get a precise figure without more data.
The estimate was based on the average ticket price of about $12,
$3.5m although ticket prices varied widely, from children’s prices and discounts to $20 for some 3-D movies. ‘‘It’s been a reasonably good year all-in-all and we’re reasonably happy with it.’’
Along with 3-D, Cornwell says almost all cinemas in New Zealand had now converted from 35-millimetre projection to digital.
Reels of celluloid film were now rarely, if at all, being used to project films in any cinema in New Zealand and films are now released exclusively in a digital format.
‘‘There are probably a lot of second-hand projectors if you wanted to buy one, but you wouldn’t have anything to play on it,’’ says Cornwell.
With that, 2015 is already shaping up to be another strong year with potential blockbusters, he says, including Fifty Shades of Grey, opening next week; The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Cinderella, Fast and Furious 7, Avengers 2, Pitch Perfect 2, Inside Out, Jurassic World, Ant Man, Insurgent, Terminator: Genisys, Minions, Mad Max Fury Road, Everest, Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, the next James Bond film Spectre, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Kiwis can now nominate artists for the Arts Foundation Icon Awards. Launched in 2003, the Icon Awards is limited to 20 living artists at any one time. Following the deaths of Icon recipients Barbara Anderson, Ralph Hotere and Sir Ian Athfield, the ‘‘living circle’’ of artists stands at 17. The public can submit their nomination to the Arts Foundation’s website from today until February 13. Nominations and statements will be supplied to the committee, and will remain anonymous. A selection committee will meet on February 16 and an awards ceremony will be scheduled for later in the year.
A full list of criteria and information is available on the Arts Foundation’s website thearts.co.nz/ icon_award Acclaimed British choir trainer and organist Andrew Lumsden will perform at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul on February 13, 12.45pm.