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Billy T: Te Movie number one at the Box Office

MEDIA RELEASE: 22 August 2011

Billy T James Still Number One

Billy T: Te Movie number one at the Box Office.

Ian Mune’s documentary celebration of New Zealand’s legendary entertainer Billy T James topped the Box Office chart for the weekend.

The weekend’s gross box office of $273,133 also makes Billy T: Te Movie the highest grossing opening of any documentary in New Zealand apart from Michael Jackson’s This Is It.

The film’s distributor, Sony Pictures New Zealand General Manager Andrew Cornwell, who has backed the film from the beginning said, “This is a great result for a local film celebrating the life of a much-loved kiwi.”

Twenty years since his untimely death on August 7, 1991, New Zealand’s legendary entertainer Billy T James is celebrated in Billy T: Te Movie, a made-for-cinema documentary directed by Ian Mune. The film presents Billy T to audiences in a way they’ve never seen him before – on the big screen with present-day high quality pictures and powerful re-mastered sound. Big, bold, talented, lovable. And funny.

The production team and their digital wizards have taken the old Billy T performance clips and made them fresh and exciting. At the heart of the film is Billy T the musician, singer, comedian – the ultimate entertainer - on stage. Woven around him are comedy skits and other pieces of his work, contemporary insights and loving reminiscences from friends, family and colleagues, interviews with Billy from back in the day, and atmospheric film drama inserts.

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For Mune, making this film was an opportunity to go back and get close to Billy, to look at the extraordinary gifts that made his audiences love him so much. “I hope this movie will honour the man I worked with - the broad range of his talent and the way he could adapt to any task within the entertainment business and be brilliant.”

Producer Tom Parkinson, who was responsible for putting Billy T on television in the late 1970s and through the 1980s, says making this film was only possible now that the technology exists for treating archival television and film footage to bring it into the modern world in terms of quality. “We’ve put the real Billy on the screen, enhanced with modern digital technology, so that we’re presenting an entertainment in the true spirit of Billy.”


Billy T: Te Movie celebrates the life of the legendary Billy T James, New Zealand’s best-loved entertainer. The film explores Billy’s extraordinary talent as musician, singer, comedian, actor, writer and artist . . . it even attempts to uncover the source of his trademark giggle. With humour and love, the film tells of Billy’s meteoric rise to national fame and his tragic downfall into ill-health and financial collapse. Featuring digitally re-mastered footage of Billy’s performances and never-seen-before archival images, Billy T’s story is set alongside interviews with his family, friends and colleagues. Audiences will leave with laughter in their hearts and tears in their eyes


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