Australia-based chain Event Cinemas, part of Event Hospitality & Entertainment, has become the latest circuit to launch their own VOD Platform, announcing in their half yearly report for investors the creation of “Cinebuzz on Demand.”
A trial version of Cinebuzz on Demand was launched in February 2021 to, in the words of CEO Jane Hastings, “better monetize our entertainment database of 2.5 million movie fans when they are stuck at home.” The platform is available to members of Event Cinema’s free Cinebuzz loyalty program; Cinebuzz reward points earned through VOD purchases can be used in-theater.
A number of major circuits went into the Covid-19 pandemic with a proprietary VOD platform already in place, including AMC, Cineplex in Canada, and Cinépolis in Mexico. Others, including Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Showcase Cinemas (National Amusements), and Reading International, have launched VOD platforms more recently, as a digital counterpart to an in-theater movie-viewing experience that in many parts of the world still remains shuttered or reduced to limited capacity.
Event Hospitality & Entertainment’s half yearly report also sheds some light on how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the cinema sector in Australia, one of three countries—along with New Zealand and Germany—in which they operate. As stated in a report from the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia, box office in Australia was down nearly 70 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year, while (per Event Hospitality & Entertainment) only one film released in the back half of 2020 (Tenet) passed the $15M mark (in Australian dollars) compared to 10 films in the same period of 2019. Of Australia’s top ten grossers of 2020, only two—Tenet and Wonder Woman 1984—came out post-shutdown.
In 2018, Vue International announced their plan to acquire Event Hospitality & Entertainment’s German cinema circuit, which operates under the brand name CineStar. In December 2020, that acquisition was prohibited by the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO) as a result of, per Event Hospitality & Entertaiment, “Vue’s failure to satisfy the FCO’s condition for the transaction. The Group is considering all of its legal options in relation to Vue’s breach of the sale and purchase agreement.”