Streamers blamed for zapping independent film production
Independent Cinemas Australia CEO Adrianne Pecotic and president Scott Seddon.
The global rise of streaming services has not directly impacted cinemagoing but it has hurt independent films which traditionally have performed well at indie cinemas.
That’s according to Scott Seddon, president of Independent Cinemas Australia, who notes that exhibitors are working with distributors to find new and co-operative ways to bring some films into the market.
“The competition our members are seeing from streaming is not directly for patrons. It is competition for actors and writers and directors and caterers and the thousands of people involved in making a movie,” Seddon said in the ICA’s annual report which was released at the organisation’s annual general meeting on Sunday.
“Those movies which gross between $1 million and $10 million at the Australian box office are the bread and butter of our industry. They are the films we really miss and which traditionally do well at independent cinemas.”
In his report Seddon lamented the Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of most of the entertainment assets of 21st Century Fox and the 18 months-long disruption before the deal was settled.
“Here in Australia we saw brilliant professionals from both camps cast adrift and I think all in exhibition felt a deep sense of loss,” he wrote, adding pragmatically, “The new normal is just that, and all in the Australian and New Zealand exhibition and distribution communities are moving on.”
Seddon identified the conversion of cinemas from 35mm film to Digital Cinema Projection as the biggest challenge the industry faced over the last decade.
He thanked the ICA’s former president Kieren Dell for ensuring all ICA members had the opportunity to access the Virtual Print Fee which substantially funded the transition to digital cinema.
While that program is due to end before the end of the current financial year it will entail hundreds more hours of administrative work.
Hailing the success of the ICA Buying Group, for which 86 per cent of ICA members have signed up, he said members are making substantial savings on candy bar costs.
Next year’s ICA conference will be held in Perth, hosted by Grand Cinemas at its historic Cygnet Cinema and at the Pagoda Resort and Spa.
At the AGM all board members including Seddon, vice president Kieren Dell and treasurer Sasha Close were re-elected unopposed.