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Downturn in moviegoers: films to blame

Wellington movie theatres are blaming low quality films for low ticket sales this year.

Local theatres say the demise in ticket sales is a global phenomenon, resulting from a lower number of blockbuster hits this year compared to previous years.

Richard Jennings of Hoyts said the downturn in turnover is not unexpected. "Business is in a decline. It is worse than it has been for a while."

He also said the rise in popularity of DVD players in New Zealand is a real concern.

Jennings said the international standard of movies is not likely to rise until Christmas. Movies such as Vertical Limit and Chicken Run are likely to be hits here.

Kerry Robins, manager of Deluxe Theatres (Embassy and Paramount), said there hasn’t been a big movie this year, like Titanic or Star Wars Episode 1, which people queued up overnight to see.

He said the Olympics also affected movie ticket sales globally, with a 40% decrease in movie goers in the two weeks of the Games.

However Robins said Deluxe Cinemas are independently run and face different challenges from the multiplexes. He said attendance numbers are fairly static, as the success independent theatres depends on the films they can secure each year.

Things may look up next year - in January Wellingtonians can look forward to the release of locally made film "Stickmen" which promises to be a huge hit.

By Emma Philpott

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