In another sign of the pressures on distributors’ margins, Roadshow Films last week closed its theatrical office in New Zealand.
The company will continue to maintain its sizable home entertainment operation and Roadshow Films MD Joel Pearlman tells IF, “We are just as committed to the territory as we ever were.”
The news comes despite solid growth in the Kiwi B.O. this year, mirroring the gains in Australia. Nationwide takings stand at $NZ148 million ($A138.3 million), up from $NZ138 million for the same period in 2014.
However distributors on both sides of the Tasman have long said their profit margins are being squeezed by ever rising marketing costs and the hit-or-miss pattern which has resulted in minimal grosses for many if not most small and medium-sized releases: a recurring loss-making proposition..
The challenges facing theatrical and home entertainment distributors are driving industry discussions towards adopting far more flexible release windows in 2016.
The general view is that the 120-day holdback will be reduced to 90 days for the major films but there is no consensus yet about the most viable windows for most Australian and other independent releases.
Paramount Pictures recently closed its branches in Brisbane and Melbourne as it centralized national operations in Sydney.
As a result of Roadshow's move, eight people in theatrical sales and marketing, finance and administration have departed.
Pearlman says,”We are always looking at margins and smarter ways of doing things and reviewing our business. Roadshow Entertainment still has its office in New Zealand and a lot of functions are done there. It’s about finding greater efficiencies in our processes.”
Roadshow will continue to release Icon Film Distribution titles on home entertainment across the Tasman but Icon will manage theatrical sales from Sydney, according to MD Greg Hughes.
Last weekend Roadshow's head of Australian production Seph McKenna attended The Big Screen Symposium in Auckland. “We’d love to acquire another New Zealand film,” Pearlman says.