Warner Bros. Cuts Village Roadshow Theatrical Ties in Australia, New Zealand

Warner Bros. is to end its decades-old film distribution relationship in Australia and New Zealand with Roadshow Films.

The studio has notified the Australian distributor that its current contract to handle the theatrical releases of Warner titles will not be renewed beyond its expiry at the end of December. Other sources report that theatrical distribution of Warner’s films will instead be handled by Universal from the beginning of 2021.

The move appears to be part of a wider reshuffle and realignment of businesses under the expanded WarnerMedia group. These have already seen streamlining of HBO and the elimination of production capacity.

Roadshow Films’ parent company Village Roadshow Limited announced the shift in a Monday filing to the Australian Stock Exchange.

“After overheads the EBITDA (cash flow) contribution from the Warner Bros. theatrical arrangements was not material to VRL in FY20. VRL does not anticipate that any material impairment or write down of assets will arise as a result of the expiry,” VRL said in the filing.

VRL said that it has not received any notification from Warner whether the separate home entertainment distribution contract will be renewed. That too expires in December.

It went to pains to explain that the expiry of the Warner theatrical relationship would not affect the ongoing BGH takeover of VRL. And it said that the license deal between VRL and Warner Bros. in the theme parks business remains intact.

“VRL maintains its excellent 40 year plus relationship with Warner Bros. in its theme park business, where it operates the Warner Bros. Movie World theme park on the Gold Coast under an ongoing long-term license. VRL does not expect any material impact on other parts of its group,” it said.

Roadshow Films has in many years been Australia’s largest non-studio distributor. It has other supply arrangements with STX and with FilmNation and Village Roadshow Pictures, both of which are partially owned by VRL. In 2019, the top ten films included Roadshow’s “Joker” and Warner Bros.’s “Aquaman.”

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