NOTE: this site is currently (May 2019) being renovated and will feature a more accessible layout, with improved search abilities. To be re-launched shortly; keep an eye on the site.

A non-commercial site created and maintained by Geoff Lealand, Research Associate, Screen and Media Studies, University of Waikato, New Zealand. Contact: geoff.lealand@waikato.ac.nz

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.

121 comments on “Welcome
  1. If you have not yet discovered my website –
    I would respectfully suggest you might find it of interest.
    It isn’t flash, as I do all the coding myself and am not a computer geek.
    But it has proven to be helpful to folks from throughout the world during the 17+ years of its existence.

    I have your site linked from my links page and would be most grateful if you would add a reciprocal link.


  2. Geoff Lealand says:

    The Hollywood Avondale now has regular ‘cult’ film screenings on Friday nights, preceded by ‘cartoons and rare 35mm themed trailers’. Screening on Friday September 21st 2018 is ‘Xanadu’ (1980, 96m) Bar opens from 7pm, trailers begin at 7.45pm and the main feature at v8pm.

  3. Geoff Lealand says:

    Updates on Finns (Paekakariki), TET Kings (Stratford), together with a new venture in Naenae, have been added. More to come.

  4. Geoff Lealand says:

    I am continuing to direct most of my activity related to this site to the associated Facebook feed, as well as attempting to update listings whenever I can.
    But I thought that I might note that although I deliberately exclude multiplex (especially chains) from this site, arguing that they largely offer a very generic viewing experience, I was impressed when I recently visited the 10-screen Readings complex in Courtney Place, Wellington. With the closure of the Paramount, Readings has taken responsibility for a full programme of film festival screenings. I caught two films in the Wellington leg of NZIFF there last week; one with an interesting Q&A.
    Great leather armchair seating!

  5. Geoff Lealand says:

    Nothing much happening here at present but updates are in the offing. In the meantime, there is more activity over at the cinemasofnz Facebook page.

  6. Geoff Lealand says:

    An update on my status: on November 3 2017, I parted company with the University of Waikato (a consequence of what Human Resources coyly refer to as ‘VR’, or Voluntary Redundancy). I will continue an association with my colleagues in Screen & Media Studies as a Research Associate, and I have every intention of persisting with this site. But it will be more a matter of voluntary work, rather than having an institution to support my endeavours. My email remains the same.

    In the meantime, I am taking responsibility for screenings of Nick Homler’s excellent little documentary “The Reel People of New Zealand” (a film inspired by this site). I have recently done screenings in Wellington, Christchurch, Cambridge, Te Aroha etc. Film societies around NZ will also have the opportunity to include it in their 2018 programme, and Sky subscribers will be able to view it on the Arts Channel in March 2018.

  7. Geoff Lealand says:

    Took a trip around Northland last week and I will be updating details on the Anzac (Dargaville), Te Ahu (Kaitaia), Cathay (Kerikeri), Matakana and a new venture in Russell (Kororareka Cinema) shortly.

    I was pleased to see that the ‘Inspiring Hokianga’ Film Festival has been revived, with a full programme of New Zealand features (A Thousand Ropes, Waru, The Great Maiden’s Blush), shorts, documentaries and workshops running between Friday Oct 20th and Monday Oct 23rd (Labour Weekend). Contact: jessiemcveagh72@gmail.com

  8. Geoff Lealand says:

    An explanation regarding the lack of activity on this site. I am posting or re-posting newer material on the associated Facebook page, as it is likely to get wider circulation, as well as leading people here.

    Looking at the likelihood of visits back to cinemas, especially those up North–as well as organising further screenings of The Reel People of New Zealand around the country.

    But keep visiting …..

  9. Pete adam says:

    What an amazing site you have created
    I have just started restoring a ernemann 2 projector early 1900 carbon arc

    I must be a fool I still think that people have kept parts and still believe people have not sent these amazing machines to the dump

    So if you know of anyone who is interested in see this machine being saved and has complete projectors or parts get them to call me
    Pete 021627633

  10. Geoff Lealand says:

    Just been of a tour of Taranaki, screening Nick’s The Reel People of New Zealand doco at Everybody’s (Opunake) and TET King’s (Stratford)*, with good audiences and general acclaim. I am looking at further screenings in other locales.

    *check out this front page story from the Stratford Press http://www2.nzherald.co.nz/stratford-press/news/article.cfm?c_id=1503390&objectid=11879958

  11. Geoff Lealand says:

    Nick’s film was well received at Doc Edge 2017 at the Roxy in Wellington. It features as part of the Shorts 2 Programme at Doc Edge 2017 at the Q Theatre in Auckland on June 2.
    I am developing ideas for further screenings around the country, to follow these two appearances.

  12. Geoff Lealand says:

    ‘Inspired’ by this website, Nick Homler’s 30 minute documentary ‘The Reel People of New Zealand’ has been selected for the 2017 Doc Edge festival, screening as part of the Shorts 2: Te Ara programme in Wellington at the Roxy Cinema on Friday 12 May (4.30pm) and in Auckland at Q Theatre on Friday June 2 (2.30pm).
    Do try and try to catch it as it is a great achievement for young film-maker Nick Homler.

  13. Geoff Lealand says:

    With the future of the Paramount Cinema in Wellington looking precarious (due to shut down its screens in September 2017), the Wellington Film Society has posted the following message:


  14. Geoff Lealand says:

    See the story about The Majestic, Taihape from the Manawatu Standard

  15. Geoff Lealand says:

    After a quick trip down south, I have updated information on several Christchurch cinemas. Also of note is a report in The Press (Jan 21, 2017), revealing that a two-screen arthouse cinema (50 + 70 seat screens) is being constructed with the old West Lecture building in the Christchurch Arts Centre. A tenant has not yet been signed up but this should herald the return of a cinema to the Centre.

  16. Geoff Lealand says:

    The Mayfair Theatre in Kaikoura has posted a photo on FB, showing the shore-front entrance fenced off. I hope it won’t be so for long.

  17. Geoff Lealand says:

    Great to see the Hollywood in Avondale reopening this weekend (Dec 3 2016), offfering a varied programme of live music (Tiny Ruins for the opening) and film.

  18. Geoff Lealand says:

    Rather alarming to hear talk of the possible closure of the Paramount in Wellington. It could be that one of the oldest cinemas in New Zealand will be replaced by a hotel. This would have serious consequences for the NZIFFS in Wellington, as well as Wellington losing an important art house venue.
    There are various rumours swirling around but we might have to wait and see.

  19. Geoff Lealand says:

    I will screening Nick Homler’s ‘The Reel People of New Zealand’ on Saturday night (Nov 5), at the NZ Film Buff’s Assn Auckland meeting. His film is looking good!

  20. Geoff Lealand says:

    Things are are happening at the historic Hollywood cinema in Avondale. It provided a venue for screenings of the Auckland round of the 2016 48 Hours film competition.
    More to come.

  21. Geoff Lealand says:

    According to a message I received from a much aggrieved local, Event Cinemas have purchased the Gold Cinema in Palmerston North and closed it down, with much haste and little explanation. It would be good to know why.

  22. Geoff Lealand says:

    Being experiencing a few technical problems but they seem to be solved, thanks to Grant.

  23. Hi,
    I am wondering if you help me track down the guy who does the cinema screen service?
    Victoria Theatre Devonport

  24. Geoff Lealand says:

    Heading off next week, before teaching starts again, to revisit cinemas Gisborne and Napier way. Now all updated.

  25. Geoff says:

    The annual Italian Film Festival, which ran until 2014 but then looked like it would disappear for ever has a reprieve through the agency of NZ-Italian director/actor Paolo Rotondo, who has put together the Cinema Italiano Festival, which features 21 films with seasons in Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch over May-June.
    Paolo’s first feature ‘Orphans and Kingdoms’ is currently screening in NZ cinemas (I saw it at the Tivoli in Cambridge this week). It is recommended viewing, with an authentically New Zealand narrative and top-notch cinematography. This film is included in the Italian festival.

  26. Geoff Lealand says:

    Many thanks, Debbie. Happy to do this. I have emailed you with my plans.

  27. Hi Geoff

    Glad to hear you are able to come to our grand opening and happy to be a guest speaker at our event. We are very pleased with the renovations so far and final touches should be finished within the next 10 days.

    Nick done an amazing job so far of the independent documentary and we hope to play a part of it on the night as well.

    You are welcome to stay at our place or I can arrange accommodation nearby.

    regards debbie campbell – everybody’s theatre

  28. Geoff Lealand says:

    Managed a swift tour of West Coast cinemas (Westport, Greymouth, Hokitika and Reefton) in late December and I will be adding these shortly.

  29. Geoff Lealand says:

    The Light House Cuba in Wellington has been voted the 2015 Best Cinema in New Zealand by the Australian Independent Distributors Association

  30. Geoff Lealand says:

    An interesting new contact as a result of my recent letter in North & South: The New Zealand Film Buffs Association, dedicated to film old and new, film and theatre preservation, and all things cinema. They put out a dinky little magazine “Film Buffs New & Views” four times a year and you can join by sending $30 to : Beverley Fisher, Secretary, 45 Maryhill Avenue, Christchurch 8025.

    The association gathers together every six months, with the next meeting at the Geraldine Cinema in November 2015. In between, there are fortnightly screenings in Christchurch (call Bev Fisher 03 942 3482 for details), and regular screenings in Napier (call Dave Turnbull 06 843 4981) and Wellington (call John Bell 04 934 8463) .

  31. Geoff Lealand says:

    Shona; many thanks for this news. It has been more than three years since I last visited Stewart Island and had been wondering what might be happening there. I will email you.

  32. Shona says:

    Hi Geoff, reading your letter to the editor in the recent North & South magazine led me to your website, where I noticed you don’t yet have the Stewart Island cinema, the Bunkhouse theatre. As well as playing a locally made history of the island during the summer, the lovely couple who run it, Pete and Penny put on at house and short films much to the delight of the locals. You may wish to check it out?

  33. Geoff says:

    But not-so-good news: the Italian Film Festival, which had been an annual feature in numerous New Zealand cinemas for several decades, can no longer run as a financially viable venture and has been cancelled for 2015. Caio … and much gratitude to Tony Lambert, who has run it for the past 14 years.

  34. Geoff says:

    More good news with two cinema re-openings: The Empire in Island Bay (Wellington) and the Gaiety Theatre in Wairoa (Northern Hawkes Bay)

  35. Geoff says:

    Following a quick trip around the South Island in late June (from Arrowtown to Picton), I have been updating cinema information–including Alice Cinematheque, the Mayfair in Kaikoura and Town Hall Cinemas in Rangiora.

  36. Geoff Lealand says:

    Take a look at the new page here (Related Videos) which features some of Nick Homler’s work. Thanks to Grant Sherson for adding this to the site.

  37. Geoff Lealand says:

    News about the Castle Duo Cinema in Kaikohe (courtesy of Bevan Shortridge):

    Many thanks, Bevan. I appreciate having this news as I have been thinking about what is happening in Kaikohe. The situation re the cinema felt rather vulnerable when I last visited and I haven’t been able to get there for a while. Certainly community initiatives can work (such as with Everybodys Theatre in Opunake) but Kaikohe is not a rich community.

    I will keep an eye on this.



    From: Bevan Shortridge [mailto:b.shortridge@auckland.ac.nz]
    Sent: Friday, 17 April 2015 10:47 a.m.
    To: lealand@waikato.ac.nz
    Subject: Kaikohe Cinema closed, maybe final

    Dear Geoff,

    Having lately discovered your cinema info site I thought this may be of interest as the Kaikohe cinema Castle Duo is listed there.

    From local paper the Northern Advocate, the cinema is due to be sold. I learned of it when I was in Northland over Easter:


    Cinema for sale
    Have you always wanted your own cinema?
    Now is your chance because Kaikohe’s Castle Duo is due to be sold at auction later this month.
    Owner Lynnis Burson, of Kerikeri, said she was keen to see the cinema used by the community, particularly for youth.
    A young woman had approached her with an “amazing proposal” to use the building to develop music and drama skills in Kaikohe youth but lacked the finances.
    The two-screen cinema with a total of 245 seats was built in 1996 by John Upperton. He sold it in 2009 to Brandon Murphy who was killed in a car crash just a month later.
    Projectionist Ben Wilson then bought the business and ran it until his lease expired in 2012.
    With movie-makers abandoning 35mm films and the cost of switching to digital projectors estimated to be about $120,000, the cinema looked doomed until a volunteer group stepped in to save it.
    They organised charity screenings and special events and took part in the national premiere of The Hobbit, but by April 2013 the demands on a dwindling band of volunteers become too great and the Castle closed again.
    The auction will take place at Kerikeri’s Orchard Estate at 1pm on April 23. The 35mm projectors and sound system are part of the deal. The property has a rateable value of $280,000.

    Kind regards,
    Bevan Shortridge

  38. Geoff Lealand says:

    Good to visit the Everybody’s Theatre in Opunake on Saturday, after a great Friday evening at Womad 2015 (primarily to catch Richard Thompson). Digital is installed and plans are underway for a major interior refurbishment.

    Young Nick is making remarkable progress with his film project (see message below) and is currently heading south, after good work at The Regent in Te Awamutu and Tivoli in Cambridge.

  39. Geoff Lealand says:

    I am off to Tropfest NZ again, at the Bowl of Brooklands in New Plymouth this Saturday (March 14). Another opportunity to watch film under the stars.

  40. Geoff Lealand says:

    Another year … and more work to do on this site. One special contribution to cinema-going in New Zealand this year will result from the endeavours of young American documentarian Nick Homler. Nick is in New Zealand on a Fulbright scholarship, and is attached to Screen & Media Studies at the University of Waikato.
    Inspired by this site, he is planning to make a film about cinemas in New Zealand and will begin his travels around the country in the coming months. He has already made a film about independent cinemas in the USA, and the turn to digital.

    I hope some of you get to meet Nick this year, and help him in his venture. He is a very enthusiastic and likeable young man.

  41. Geoff Lealand says:

    One great pleasure of summer in New Zealand is the proliferation of outdoor film screenings after dark, in various venues around the country. There are free screenings through February on the Lagoon Lawn on the Wellington Waterfront, and screenings at Silo Park in downtown Auckland, beginning on February 6 (Waitangi Day) with ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. The same film features in the outdoors screenings at the Roger’s Rose Garden as part of the Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, which runs for most of February. More information can be found at: http://www.hamiltongardensartsfestival.co.nz

    If you know of any other such events in New Zealand, do add a comment here.

  42. Geoff Lealand says:

    Calvin and Deirdre have passed on ownership of the lovely little Geraldine Cinema in South Canterbury. This cinema is now owned and operated by Pat Walsh, with a digital upgrade in place for the release of the third Hobbit movie.
    Calvin and Deirdre will continue to contribute to the community spirit of Geraldine through organising live events at the cinema.

  43. Geoff Lealand says:

    Maxine: I am not sure whether I have replied to your query but I could suggest some useful contacts. Email me at lealand@waikato.ac.nz and I will get back to you quickly.

    Incidentally, the Geraldine Cinema is community fund-raising for a digital upgrade.

  44. I need to upgrade the equipment in my cinema in Akaroa. Do you know any cinemas that have recently closed that had upgraded their equipment in the last few years?

  45. Geoff says:

    I need to spend some time on updating material on this site but rather distracted at the moment by the Hamilton leg of the NZ International Film Festival. To date: 16 films in fourteen days. I will be back soon.

  46. Geoff says:

    This link takes you to an interesting (and and little sad)short film “Going Dark: The Final Days of Film Projection”, about the final days of a cinema in the USA.

  47. Geoff Lealand says:

    Check out the excellent, full-page feature by Steve Kilgallon “Heartland’s screen test” (Sunday Star Times,July 6 2014, A13) on New Zealand small town cinemas, with a particular focus on the Anzac Theatre in Dargaville. It is includes a side-bar “Lealand’s Favourites’ and images from this site.

    So many more I could have included ….

  48. Geoff says:

    See new post about the Tivoli Cinema, which opened in Cambridge in May 2014.

  49. Geoff says:

    Things are a bit quiet here at the moment, as I am back into teaching. This includes a World Cinema course, which I really enjoy. Looking towards to mid-semester break in three weeks, when I can get back to re-visit cinemas.

    Last month I did get to see a film (‘Inside Llewyn Davis’) at the Embassy in Wellington, in one of the two downstairs boutique screens. Very nice!

  50. Geoff Lealand says:

    See post about the Maoriland Film Festival in Otaki, April 26-30 2014

  51. Geoff Lealand says:

    You can find out about outdoor summer film screenings in Auckland via wwww.moviesinparks.co.nz/ . Free movies on every Friday and Saturday evening all over Auckland!. Start once the sun has gone down.

  52. Geoff Lealand says:

    The Suter Cinema in Nelson has scheduled an interesting Summer Film Festival, running Dec 28 2013 to Feb 6 2014. Includes excellent titles, including recent festival releases, such as ‘Twenty Feet From Stardom’, ‘Behind the Candelabra’ and ‘Before Midnight’. Two films you should make a real effort to see are ‘The Turning’ (Jan 6, 16, 28, 31) and ‘Nebraska’ (Jan 16, 18, 19, 27, 28).

  53. Geoff says:

    In the episode featuring the Hawke’s Bay, in the rather good “This Town” series recently screening Saturday evenings on TV One, there was a segment featuring Geoff Hole and the Gaiety Theatre in Wairoa. Do take a look at it, on TVNZ On Demand (ep 2, 13 October)


    I went through Wairoa two weeks ago, on a tour around Hawke’s Bay and Bay of Plenty cinemas.

  54. Geoff Lealand says:

    Another cinema has closed: the Ascot in Upper Hutt, which closed in early September after failing to find a new owner. It was a nice cinema but with only one digital screen, it was facing the same costly upgrades other places are facing.
    The number of CLOSED entries on the Cinema Directory are getting a little too numerous ….

  55. Geoff Lealand says:

    Sad to hear that the Empire Cinema in Island Bay (Wellington) suddenly closed its doors on October 16. According to manager Chantel Theunissen, ‘We are hopeful that it will be open again in the future, but for the time being we will be closed’ (Dominion 17/10/213.
    I do hope it re-opens soon as it is a fine example of a community-based cinema.

  56. Geoff Lealand says:

    Teaching is nearly over for the year so I plan to get around some of the remaining cinemas, revisit some others, and add new places.

    Hoyts have just opened a new in the Downtown Plaza in central Hamilton and although it is great to have another 5 screens in town, it is screening the same mainstream fare as the Hoyts cinemas at the Base (Te Rapa) , and elsewhere.

  57. Geoff says:

    Interesting item on Seven Sharp last night (TV One, August 22) on the final screening of 35mm in Auckland cinemas.

  58. Jeremy Macey says:

    Hi Geoff,

    good to see you at the Big Screen Symposium and I’m really enjoying your site. It’s interesting to review the discussion on here charting the introduction and expansion of DCP. I’m learning about the VPF and its implications for filmmaker-distributors like the Torchlight Films team who made Hook, Line and Sinker. It will put a dent in revenues from smaller titles/centres which may in turn limit the cinemagoers’ access to such films. However I’m reserving judgement until I get more information, there doesn’t seem to be much concrete information available within NZ yet. So I’ll try finding out from the horse’s mouth – the US ‘integrator’ (middleman?) Cinedigm. Watch this space…

  59. Geoff says:

    Great to see the new community-funded cinema at Dargaville is about to open. Check details at http://www.facebook.com/#!/ANZACTheatre?hc_location=stream

  60. Geoff says:

    Monterey Cinemas in Howick has won the Flicks People’s Choice Awards—Best Independent Cinema 2012/13

  61. Geoff Lealand says:

    My local cinema–the Lido in central Hamilton–is about to go fully digital. This message from Stewart, the Manager:
    “We’ve got exciting developments this week at the Lido. After a good century or so of service the days of 35mm film are all but at an end. Over the next few months pretty much all film will be gone from New Zealand cinemas as exhibitors around the country convert to the new DCP (digital cinema package) systems. Digital cinema has come a long way in the past few years and while there are some differences between DCP and 35mm projection there is virtually no difference in quality anymore (this was not always the case). Those of you who came to see a film at last year’s International Film Festival have already experienced DCP at the Lido and our new machines will be very similar to what we screened on during that period. Personally I’m a little sad to see the demise of 35mm as that is what I learned to use as a young buck projectionist. All the same, DCP is the way of the future and I’m also excited to get our first new projector in later this week. All things going well we’ll have one DCP in & screening by this weekend. The remaining two screens will be done over the next couple of months”

  62. Geoff Lealand says:

    In addition to the new Academy Gold Cinema in Christchurch, fund raising is underway to develop a fully digital cinema within the Isaac Theatre Royale in the inner city. This would bring the NSZ Internsational Film Frestival back to the city centre, as well as ameliorating the loss of so many cinemas in the 2011 earthquake.
    Check out their website at http://www.isaactheatreroyal.co.nz/, ande give a little towards this venture.

  63. Geoff says:

    Great to see another sign of renewal in Christchurch, with the Academy Gold Cinema opening in Colombo Street in late April. I will add it shortly.

  64. Geoff Lealand says:

    Hope people like the re-design of this site, which makes it a little cleaner and clearer. Thank you, Grant.

  65. Geoff Lealand says:

    Things are quiet here at the moment as I am in California on a research trip (currently I Santa Monica). Taking photos of old cinemas when I encounter them–such as a lovely one in Riverside whilst I was at the university there. Built in1929, it screened the first public showing of Gone With the Wind.

    But I continue to daily deal with obnoxious spam, which is such a waste of time….

  66. Geoff Lealand says:

    Gradually adding more cinemas and I reckon I have about 80% now as ‘active’ sites. See Everybody’s (Opunake) and King’s (Stratford) theatre for good example of how some communities are dealing with the twin challenges of structural and technical upgrades.
    I will be in the US (California and Ohio) next month and hope to come across art house/repertory cinemas.
    In May/June I hope to get those cinemas (eg Pahiatua, Kaikoura) still to be added.

  67. Geoff Lealand says:

    Oh, obviously The Vic is in Auckland–in Devonport, specifically?

  68. Geoff Lealand says:

    Kia ora David; I don’t profess to be an expert on systems so it might be more helpful to you to contact people at cinemas which have recently upgraded (eg Academy in Auckland central) or folk with more expertise than I (eg Mark Christensen at the State in Nelson). You can find contact details under particular cinemas on this site. If they cannot help you, they can direct you to places where you will find information. Is The Vic in Auckland?

  69. David Downs says:

    Hi, I am on the Trust of a community theatre in Auckland (www.thevic.co.nz). We are currently about to install Digital Projection into 1 of our 3 theatres. We are somewhat struggling to raise the money, and in some ways also to know which is the best system to go for. I have been wondering if there is a community or industry group of independent cinema operators who we can bounce ideas off. In particular, fundraising ideas, and sharing advise on which is the best equipment at the best price.
    Thank you for any advice you can offer a small theatre operator.

    David Downs
    Trustee – The Vic

  70. Geoff Lealand says:

    Thanks, Bruce. I will get back to Pahiatua as soon as I can but it may not be until May or June, following a US trip.

  71. Bruce lea says:

    Hi Geoff,
    If you are down this way, contact me and I can show you through our Regent in Pahiatua.

  72. Geoff Lealand says:

    With five months of sabbatical leave beginning this week, I am planning to complete this website by July. This will entail visiting (or revisiting) those cinemas to be added (ie not yet ‘live’), as well as updating existing information. One example: I was in New Plymouth recently for Tropfest and re-visited the Arthouse Cinema in Devon Street but found it closed. I am endeavouring to find out whether it will re-open.

  73. Geoff Lealand says:

    Thanks, David, I will add that information. Best wishes to those on the Wellington Film Society, I was in the Wellington committee a long, long ago–last century, in fact.

  74. Hi Geoff

    Your site has just been drawn to my attention. Very good effort and well worth while. I see you mention that the Rialto in Auckland is home to the Auckland Film Society on Monday nights. You could do the same for the Wellington Film Society. We screen 6.15pm Mondays at the Paramount, March to November.

    I will give your site a mention in the Wellington Film Guide. http://www.film.wellington.net.nz


  75. Geoff Lealand says:

    Thanks, Gary. A welcome contribution….

  76. Gary Potts says:

    Hi Geoff. Thankyou for providing a valuable platform to discuss the current issues concerning independent cinema in NZ. As you mentioned, Victoria Cinema Hamilton has finally closed (unless a major miracle occurs in the next week!).

    My aim of bringing a quality independent cinema experience to Hamilton was achieved in 2002, satisfying a market for niche audiences to view top-grade arthouse content in a smaller, traditionally-styled venue. It will go down in regional cinema history that we provided such luxuries as espresso coffee and wine and food “direct to your seat”. As well, we installed stadium seating, Dolby Digital sound, and two years ago added e-cinema, allowing the screening of more obscure and niche-targeted titles. All these were significant firsts for the small, ambitious Victoria and proved to be popular attractions. We were supported by an appreciative movie audience that went well beyond Hamilton. But attendence patterns have changed in recent years and our market erroded as other entertainment options bid for specialty audiences.

    The Victoria could have continued on but only for another short period. Putting aside the factors of running a business with all its complexities, it basically comes down to product supply. The main distributors have signalled a cut-off of 35mm film by April 2013, making our existing plant redundant. We could continue with mpeg2 E-Cinema for the foreseeable, but the direction of the industry is full conversion to DCP, including delivery of commercial arthouse by this method. The cost of conversion to DCP in a building not suitable for adding extra screens (to make it more viable), coupled with expiration of several lease extensions, means we’ve decided to pull-up roots here, given that there are other options on the horizon.

    I will post on here from time to time with any news, as I’m not wanting the “old Vic” to disappear in an air of mystery.

  77. Geoff Lealand says:

    The good news for locals like me is that Hoyts Cinemas are returning to central Hamilton, upgrading and re-opening the vacant Event Cinemas in Centreplace. Due to re-open in late 2013, this which will mean that Hamilton will be richly endowed with cinema screens, with Event Cinemas Chartwell, Hoyts Te Awa The Base, and the Lido.

    The only sad note is that the small boutique Victoria Cinema finally closed on November 4, after a long period of partial closures and partial re-openings. The final screening (Carol Reed’s wonderful ‘The Third Man’) was organised by the Hamilton Film Society. Nevertheless, there still is talk about yet another phase of life for the Victoria.

    Getting back in action: Over the next few months I will begin filling in the gaps (cinemas still to be added or visited) on this site. My objective is to get it pretty much completed (except for updates) by the middle of 2013.

  78. Geoff Lealand says:

    Probably a little premature…so much marking to do (which includes assessing 140 student blogs) so it will have to wait a little longer.

  79. Geoff says:

    Once B Semester teaching is over, in three week’s timne, I will get back to adding and updating this site.

  80. Geoff says:

    From a recent story from the online newsletter Screenhub, reviewing The Big Screen Symposium in Auckland in early September. A pity they didn’t get my name right but I don’t think I have ever had my online efforts described as ‘charming’ before. Charmed, I ‘m sure!

    “Geoff Leland`s work, including the charming research project Cinemas of NZ, offered a view of an under-exploited audience segment: old buggers.

    Noting that box office fell 11% in 2011 over the previous year to a less than impressive 3.2 visits per year, Leland attributed it in part to a growing reluctance among Hollywood`s preferred demographic of late teens to early twenties males to turn out. Quoting figures from Val Morgan and US and UK research, he noted the growth area was older female-skewed viewers who “dislike multiplexes and prefer hoodie-free environments to popcorn” and like age appropriate films “and anything with Helen Mirren in it”.

    He claimed the arthouse and independent sector now contributes c30% of NZ box office takings, but mused on whether the current arthouse audience represented the last generation of filmgoers.

    Digital (both as a cheaper production medium and method of distribution) was making it possible to better serve these audiences, and Leland pointed to a number of new cinemas (including Wellington`s Roxy and Wanaka`s Ruby`s) attracting such audiences. “

  81. Geoff Lealand says:

    Thanks, Shane. I have an entry for Finns and I will update it. Another good reason to stop at Paekakariki.

  82. shane jarrett says:

    News regarding the Shoreline cinema in Waikanae
    They have opened a third screen at Finns hotel in Paekakariki
    26 seats and very classy
    Also the Focal point cinema of Feilding and Levin have taken over the cinema in Hastings
    Well done I say

  83. Geoff says:

    News regarding The Victoria Picture Palace in Devonport: according to their website (http://www.thevic.co.nz/), long-time manager John Davies “vacates on August 8 …and the Trust will soon announce the names of the new operating team who will take over the theatre”

  84. Geoff Lealand says:

    Thanks, Brad. I hadn’t realised that Tourism NZ had moved so quickly on this. I will endeavour to get down to Fiordland but I am not sure when or how. The closest I came was Queenstown. Do you have some info I could use , in the meantime, to ensure you are included on the site (website, photos etc)?

  85. Kia ora Geoff…Tourism NZ have just supplied me with a link to your site and makes for some interesting and informative reading…Thankyou. Please check us out down here at Fiordland Cinema, home of Ata Whenua ( Shadowlands ).

  86. Geoff Lealand says:

    Shane: sure did. I will add it shortly.

  87. Shane Jarrett says:

    Well you are doing a great job and it is appreciated.
    Did you get to see our cinema in Waikanae?

  88. Geoff Lealand says:

    Thanks, Shane. I have it on my list to visit, along with Whangamata. I am currently adding South Island and Wairarapa cinemas but there remains a list of around 15 places to visit or re-visit. It does depend on non-teaching breaks and opportunity, as I no longer have any funding to assist with travel.

    I expect this project will go on for quite a while longer…

  89. Shane Jarrett says:

    Hi Geoff.
    There is a great cinema at Whitianga that you have left off your list.
    It is a two screen purpose built cinema
    There is no web site at the moment

  90. Geoff Lealand says:

    Thanks, Derek. I intend to get to the Kapiti Coast + Wairarapa cinemas as soon as I have the opportunity.

  91. Derek says:

    Good effort!

    Only just moved to the area, so haven’t visited yet, but Waikanae in Kapiti has the boutique-y Shoreline Cinema, http://www.shorelinecinema.co.nz

    Usual thing programme-wise, but welcome nonetheless this far out from the capital. Certainly seems to have the right idea about refreshments.

  92. Geoff Lealand says:

    I took a journey around the South Island last week (1200+kms driving over six days), funded by a small research grant from my university. Visited 17 different cinemas, from Sumner to Arrowtown, and I will be adding these over the next few weeks,
    There are places still to visit or revisit (eg Gisborne, Kaikoura, Wairarapa), and I will do this as the opportunity arises,

  93. Geoff Lealand says:

    Welcome,Roger. Could you send me information on the Raglan film screenings (in the Old School?) and I could come to a screening, or meet up with you. I did call by a month or so ago but couldn’t find the right person to get information from.

    You can email me at lealand@waikato.ac.NZ or ring me at the Univ of Waikato ext 6022

  94. Would you add us to your list please.

    Rodger Gallagher

  95. Geoff says:

    The May 2012 issue of the New Zealand film and TV industry monthly Onfilm features an article I wrote about this site, as “Popcorn and panini: Cinemas and film-going in New Zealand” (p. 15,25). Not yet available online, unfortunately.

  96. Russell Lloyd says:

    Kia ora Geoff. I was a student of yours and Sam from 1992-95 and now work as a freelance technician in NZ. I just want to say hi, and to thank you for your help, knowledge and encouragement towards gaining my degree and laying a great foundation for my career. The site looks choice too! What is Mr Edwards doing these days?


  97. Geoff Lealand says:

    Thanks, Craig. I learn about such places through contacts such as yourself. I will follow it up.

  98. Craig Parkes says:

    Hi Geoff, you need to see if you can check out the Ohakune cinema – The Big Mountain Short Film Festival was run for a while there a few years back and I found it a pretty charming place – as have I imagine a lot of other young local film makers who journeyed there. Just don’t mistake the heaters behind the seat in front as foot rests, otherwise you might end up with a melted shoe sole!

    The article in Onfilm has obviously done the trick, came here as soon as I read it (and it was the first article I read when I saw the cover of this months Onfilm!)


  99. Geoff Lealand says:

    About to submit an article to the New Zealand screen industry journal Onfilm as I think it is time to start publicising this site. I am still adding material but I also have to spend time deleting annoying spam.

  100. Geoff says:

    Link pages are back (thanks, Grant)

  101. Geoff Lealand says:

    The information pages “Why ‘Independent’ and ‘Art house’?” + What comes next?” + “About the Author” seem to have slipped on the front page here but I am endeavouring to retrieve.

  102. Mark Christensen says:

    Hi Geoff,

    Please excuse my belated replay some months later… Yes NZMPEA is still very much alive and well and working on behalf of Independent Cinemas in NZ. NZMPEA has not actually merged with ICAA but has formed a close relationship with ICAA whereby two NZMPEA Executive members sit on the ICAA Board and NZMPEA members get the benefits of ICAA membership so far as that relates to NZ – there are some issues that differ between the countries (they don’t have our parallel importing issue for example) but the big one that is common to both is the VPF and digital conversion.

  103. Good work Geoff, will promote in our next issue of The Write Stuff!

  104. Geoff Lealand says:

    Many thanks, Mark. I appreciate you sharing your expertise here. These technological and policy decisions have very significant ramifications for the independent sector, even though they are happening far beyond the consciousness of your average film-goer.

    As this site grows and I add more content, I hope will also serve as a forum for discussions such as these. I would be very pleased if this happens as I have been very impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm of the cinema managers and staff I have met in my travels around New Zealand.

    One more question, Mark; what is the situation with the recent merging of the ICCA and the New Zealand independent cinemas association? I realize it provides a stronger united body in pursuing shared interests but is there still a strong NZ association, to represent more local interests?

  105. Mark Christensen says:

    I enjoyed our discussion yesterday Geoff and no doubt we could have continued on for some hours….

    Some further comments on Andrea & Richard’s points above (albeit some months later). Richard’s point about the use of DCI compliant files & professional equipment vs mpegs and “home theatre” (ie consumer standard) equipment for the higher quality of presentation is one very important reason that the Studios insist compliance with the DCI standards, but it is not the only reason.

    A significant part of the DCI standard is to do with protection of the film maker from theft of the product (ie movie piracy). Mpeg files have no protection from copying at all and as we saw in the case of Boy it only takes one person a few minutes to illegally obtain a perfect copy of the file with consequent serious loss of income to the film maker and to cinema operators.

    A point that is missing from the conversation but described in the ABC clip in Geoff’s introduction is the fact that Independent cinemas in NZ and Australia have combined their resources and are close to concluding a VPF (Virtual Print Fee) deal with the Studios. Under this deal the Studios are providing a significant financial incentive to assist Independent cinemas to convert to DCI compliant digital projection.

    The end result of digital conversion is that all Independent cinemas will be physically able to access all movies (not the case at present) at the same time as all other cinemas (not the case at present) and that Independent film makers will be able to have the same quality of presentation and the same protections against illegal copying as their Studio counterparts. This can only be of benefit to the Independent sectors (both cinemas and film makers) as it provides freedom for the producers to market and release their product as they wish and it provides a common (worldwide) universal file format meaning that there will be no technical barrier to access to theatrical release worldwide.

    Added to which the quality of presentation (sound and picture) will be elevated to well above the standard available in the living room (or home theatre). For that surely is the goal of cinemas – to provide a cinematic experience with all it’s nuances that cannot be reproduced at home.

  106. ruth zanker says:

    I have just finished marking (week of Christmas!…thank you earthquakes). This is a great project Geoff. ruthx

  107. Lesley Grant says:

    Looks great Geoff. Look forward to seeing you on Thursday.

  108. Geoff Lealand says:

    Obviously there is a certain fluidity with a site like this, as cinemas come and go eg I was about to add in the Victoria ’boutique’ cinema in Hamilton but it showed its final film in early November and closed its doors. However, the Lido in Hamilton has come to the rescue and will re-open the Victoria as its fourth screen in a couple of weeks. Which is great news.

  109. Geoff Lealand says:

    Time for an update: now that teaching is done for the year, I can get get around more cinemas and have travelled around Northland and, most recently, Taranaki and Manawatu. I hope that I will have most the North Island accounted for, and information added, before the end of this year.

    Which leaves the South Island. I need to do it full justice and go back to places such as Dunedin and Christchurch, so I am intending to do this in 2012. I have asked my university for a modest travel budget to enable me to do this, as my initial investigations were rather fleeting and incomplete.

    So far, I am pleased how this project is progressing and I welcome your comments and suggestions.

  110. Geoff Lealand says:

    Getting more done but I can forsee this will be a long-term project. If you go the Cinema Directory page and click on a cinema which is highlighted in green (The Crooked Mile in Hokitika is the first), you will see how I intend to organise the information on this site. The structure needs a little more work but I do intend to keep it fairly simple.

  111. Geoff Lealand says:

    More information on particular cinemas added, 27 Sept. The next step wiull be to make this info available at a click of a button, together with photos.

  112. Geoff Lealand says:

    Apologies for my tardiness in adding more information to cinema sites. My one research day (Tuesday) has been swallowed up with PhD meetings, marking, preparation…and the nonsense that universities throw your way. The rest of the week is teaching, teaching, teaching…or marking. marking, marking. I have a whole bunch of details I am itching to add, in addition to planning more visits to North Island cinemas.
    Semester B teaching finishes in 4 weeks and I will have more time then but will be adding when I can in advance of that.

  113. Geoff Lealand says:

    I will be posting information gathered on my trip around the East Coast (Napier, Wairoa, Gisborne, Opotiki, Te Puke) shortly.

  114. Geoff Lealand says:

    Thanks, Robert. Billy T – Te Movie is the kind of film I hope this site will assist in respect of distribution.

  115. Robert Boyd-Bell says:

    Hi Geoff
    Really interesting discussion – we had to pay exhorbitant amounts to send film prints of “Billy T – Te Movie” to some small cinemas that will never recover the cost of the print, but did so as part of the national release commitment.
    Technology will see the end of film projection very soon and mpeg2 files will be also rans to DCP.
    You need to add John Davies Victoria at Devonport (and Academy) and the Waiheke Community Cinema to your list.
    Will try Spada again this year if they have anything new to discuss – working on Public Broadcasting Foundation.
    Regards – Robert

  116. Geoff Lealand says:

    Thanks, Richard. Not sure whether to be flattered or offended by the ‘age’ comment but I am greatly indebted to you for the establishment of The Lido in Hamilton. It is a wonderful cinema and a great host for the Hamilton Film Society. My wife says it is a bit like ‘going to a bordello’ but she means that in a very complimentary way.
    Obviously I will be including both the Lido Auckland and the Lido Hamilton on this site. Would I be able to come by to talk to you some day soon?

  117. Hi Andrea – congratulations on getting your film made and into cinemas.
    Geoff – great to see you developping this site (especially given your age – if that is a current photo).

    I’d just like to comment on Andrea’s post in regards to full digital conversion and the ‘pressure’ smaller cinemas are getting from ‘the big distributors’ to convert. None of these large Studio Distributors supply MPEG files anyway as quite rightly they do not feel the quality is good enough. So if you are saying that the small cinemas are being pressured to convert to continue to receive film supply – I’m not sure that is accurate as they will not be getting supply at the moment anyway from the Studios. They will currenlty be receiving all their film supply from the smaller distributors and as such MPEG files will continue to be supplied to them.

  118. Geoff Lealand says:

    kia ora Andrea; pleased you found me. I intend to spread the news about this site once I have added more content. I agree with your comments re new opportunities with digital technology–it is a line I take in my book chapter. My wife Josephine Maplesden (Hamilton Girls) and Deb Thompson (Western Springs College) did a great presentation on ‘frugal film/simple cinema’ at the Screen Futures Summit in Melbourne in July.

  119. Geoff, great to see this site. Came across it quite by chance.

    Our independent feature HOOK, LINE & SINKER has just completed its theatrical release which began May 5. We distributed it ourselves in line with our philosophy of developing a sustainable model of filmmaking in NZ, whereby the returns from one film feed into the budget of the next – an impossible goal under the current conventional model of distribution.

    Hook, LIne & Sinker screened in 47 cinemas around the country, all but 4 of them independent. It becomes clear how important these cinemas are to our own distribution strategy and how vital they are for small communities. I am sure we can add one or two of the more unusual ones to your list.

    It is particularly important that these small cinemas are supported, as the way films are being exhibited (literally projected) is changing very rapidly. Most of these small independents screen what are called Mpeg2 files. NZ, India, and to a limited extent, the UK, have been the only countries in the world using this system. It is not ideal technically, but the infrastructure is affordable, and this is what has enabled the proliferation of small independent cinemas around the country.

    However there is another file called DCP with very high specs, which is set to become the standard screening format. It is already displacing 35mm film. (All 3D movies are DCP.) It will increase the profits of the distributors, as it is vastly cheaper than making and transporting film prints. But needless to say the cost of the infrastructure is prohibitive. Currently around $100,000 for a basic 2D system.

    Our concern as independent filmmakers who are reliant on these small cinemas, is that many of them may not be able to afford (or more likely not survive) the transition from Mpeg2 projection to DCP. Big distributors are already pressuring smaller cinemas to upgrade to DCP or risk losing their supply of films.

    They only way these independents will survive will be literally by getting more people into their cinemas.

  120. Admin says:

    Thanks, Helen. You are the first to comment here. As you can see, it is very much under construction. I have just about finished the introductory/opening page and will move on the map/directory asap.

  121. Helen Martin says:

    Fantastic to see this site Geoff. I’ll be following it with great interest. Helen

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