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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38, No. 6 April 10, 1975

The Effect of the Films We See

The Effect of the Films We See

Movies are an extremely important form of art, entertainment, education and general communication (the leaders of the Russian revolution, for example, were fully aware of this even in the early days of movies). New Zealand in particular has always had a strong film tradition. One of the first theatres built specifically for movies anywhere in the world opened In Auckland in 1910 - the Kings, now called the Mercury. By 1945 we had three times as many cinemas per head of population as the United States of America.

The appearance of television caused a dramatic decline in the interest in [unclear: movi] Cinemas closed (from 525 at the peak to 208 today, most those closing being independents) and attendances dropped (from 24 visits per year per person in [unclear: 194] to four in 1973). However interest in films is now reviving especially among young adults. Kerridge-Odeon is building theatres again and business is booming for the cinema chains.

The cinema has weathered the full blast of television competition and survived. Films will continue to play an important role in the cultural life of New Zealand, which means that the choice of film available is important - especially as the cinema can escape some of the restrictions imposed on television. For instance, it is very unlikely that the broad casting bureaucrats would allow a politically-radical film to be shown on New Zealand television; whereas such films are available to the cinemas.

However the kindest thing that can be said about the choice of film available in New Zealand is that there isn't very much. New Zealanders only see a small proportion of the films made throughout the world: those made in the United States and England. And even among these we miss out on just page 9 about everything that is controversial, political, or that even simply stretches the intellect.

The bias against 'foreign' (i.e. non-English/American) films is basically a commercial one the two chains are associated with English and American distributors Kerridge's principal, the Rank Organisation is mainly active in the exhibiting side of the industry; but it does act as a distributor to Commonwealth countries, and this will be one of its motives for its involvement in Kerridge-Odeon - a guaranteed market for its products.

Obviously English and American distributors have no interest in peddling 'foreign' films (although the English distributors have an interest in peddling American films because of the business they do with the Americans in England). So apart from a small commercial wave of interest in European films in the sixties, we have been denied the bulk of the world's film production.

Kerridge-Odeon has a definite leaning towards British films, mainly because of the Rank link-up but also because Kerridge-Odeon shows what Sir Robert wants them to show and he likes British films He also liked to have the National Anthem (British) played in his cinemas despite public complaints but was forced to drop it because people were refusing to stand up.