It’s a long way from Sydney to Perth, but you’d think three days would
be long enough for news of the savage price cuts by the Hoyts Cinema
chain to reach the head office of its half owner, West
Australian newspapers, in time for the profit announcement on Thursday.

The Sydney Morning Herald
on Tuesday revealed that flat business conditions forced Hoyts to slash
its admission prices to $8.50 for any movie, any session
during its peak Thursday to Sunday period. Greater Union and Village
Cinemas have provided discounts of their own, while
some independents have been offering cut-price tickets for some weeks because of the downturn.

And yet in the interim profit statement for West Australian newspapers,
managing director Ian Law made this statement of confidence: “The
contribution from Hoyts Cinemas (50%) in the new financial year
has been encouraging with improved levels of admissions resulting from
a stronger line-up of movie releases in July.”

Then on Friday The Sydney Morning Herald reported: “The Perth publishing group also said Hoyts Cinemas had begun the new
financial year on a strong note, reporting improved admission levels
due to a strong line-up of movie releases.”

WA News bought 50% of Hoyts in January for $173.5 million and
you get the feeling that there’s not much market intelligence getting
through between Sydney and Perth. And judging by his comments, Law
seems a little out of touch with the movie business.

Peter Fray

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