A non-commercial site created and maintained by Geoff Lealand, Research Associate, Screen and Media Studies, University of Waikato, New Zealand. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
To begin with two quotes:
Clive James on cinema-going, The thrill that began with a shaft of light in the dark will still go on.
(The Atlantic, June 2011, 97)
[paraphrasing UK music critic David Hepworth], “The future of film is its past”
Some might say it is a little ironic to be creating a website celebrating the pleasures of going to the cinema in New Zealand (or film-going generally), in a time when we are all supposedly sitting at home watching films on SVOD or DVD, or as downloads (legally or illegally acquired), or even on the tiny screens of our mobile phones.
But the evidence is otherwise, for very large numbers of New Zealanders continue to journey to the local cinema (or theatre or movie palace or multiplex or whatever you call it). Val Morgan, an authoritative source, points to the art house/independent sector as the fastest growing audience group in New Zealand.
Nevertheless, changes in technology (the production, distribution and exhibition of film) have created challenges but also new opportunities for the survival, arrival and revival of independent cinemas, with the now complete shift to digital technology (DCP).
This site is a celebration of film-going in New Zealand; a particular kind of movie-going. It is not about the generic multiplex experience, where going to see blockbusters like Transformers 10 or the latest superhero movie is pretty much the same wherever you go. My focus is on what you might call ‘popcorn free cinemas’ (even though I like the do-it-yourself popcorn machine at the Bunkhouse Cinema on Raikura/Stewart Island).
This site is designed to document and celebrate the abundance of unique art house/independent cinemas in the towns and cities of New Zealand. As at December 2018, I have visited more than 90 such cinemas around New Zealand, from Kaitaia to Stewart Island. I no longer have any institutional (university) support, so I do the best I can to visit or revisit all these places.
A few cinemas have closed since I began this venture more than 8 years ago, such as the much-missed Crooked Mile Talking Pictures in Hokitika (below), but new ones have opened or re-opened, such as the Anzac Cinema in Dargaville, Everybody’s in Opunake, the Gaiety in Wairoa, and the Tivoli Cambridge and Tivoli Papamoa.
This site is not yet complete (and may never be), as I continue to add or update information. One of the very best things it has inspired is Nick Homler’s documentary The Reel People of New Zealand which was first screened in the Doc Edge Festival 2017 in Wellington and Auckland, and then on the Sky Arts Channel. In November 2018, this charming 30min film was made available to freely view on the NZ On Screen site, at https://www.nzonscreen.com/title/the-real-people-of-nz-2016
1. Crooked Mile Talking Pictures, Hokitika (interior, 2010) CLOSED April 2012
2. The Civic, Queen Street, Auckland (foyer, 2009)
3. Mayfair Community Theatre, Kaikoura (2011). Badly damaged in the Kaikoura earthquake but looking to re-open in 2019-2020.