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Local documentary breaks new ground with innovative model

On Thursday March 28, critically acclaimed New Zealand-made documentary Dog’s Best Friend will premiere nationwide in a first of its kind innovation, combining a new model for theatrical and home distribution into one release managed by the cinema.

Having sold out at the New Zealand International Film Festival in 2018, Dog’s Best Friend is by Kiwi director Eryn Wilson. The documentary feature focuses on the rehabilitation of troubled dogs at a Sydney canine centre and, over 18 months, follows the centre’s owners and several rescue dogs’ remarkable journeys while in their care.

From March 28, it will release simultaneously in cinema and on VOD (Video On Demand), breaking the typical distribution model for film both locally and globally.

The initiative is powered by New Zealand media and technology company SHIFT72, in collaboration with The Hollywood Avondale Cinema and the film itself.

The Hollywood Avondale will premiere Dog’s Best Friend in theatre, and will also be the first cinema to use SHIFT72’s new exhibitor-led streaming platform ScreenPlus, which gives Kiwis the option to purchase a ticket to stream the film and watch online from anywhere in New Zealand while it is “in season” at the cinema. In a breakthrough move, the online rental access option is only available through the cinema’s website.

David White, founder and CEO of SHIFT72, says of the release: “ScreenPlus provides cinemas with a very real opportunity to participate in the home streaming market and continue to grow their cinema ticket sales at the same time."

Veteran screen producer and SHIFT72 Director John Barnett (Whale Rider, Sione’s Wedding, Footrot Flats: A Dog's Tale, Shortland Street, Outrageous Fortune) says this distribution model is indicative of changing consumer preferences and will encourage more Kiwis to enjoy film, wherever and however they want to watch it.

“We wanted to create a platform where viewers could watch the film when they wanted to, but we also wanted to ensure that the cinema shared in that income, so we’ve built a platform that meets both those needs. It will change the face of movie-going, providing more options for viewers whilst ensuring that cinemas share in this new market,” Barnett says.

Dog’s Best Friend director Eryn Wilson is proud to be the first film to release under this new model. “The ability to take Dog’s Best Friend to the big screen and into living rooms simultaneously is a film-maker’s dream. And since figures show there are some 560,000 (registered) dogs in this country, I’m excited that dog lovers will have such immediate access to the film.”

Animal charity Paw Justice is also the official sponsor of this release, and will receive the first dollar of every cinema and digital ticket purchase.

Catch Dog’s Best Friend on the big screen from March 28 at the Hollywood Avondale in Auckland or watch online via

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