Openair Cinema was founded in 2003…
Openair Cinema Ltd. was founded by Denise and Urs Bauer in July 2003 as a family business with the scope to bring outdoor movies to New Zealand. The company operated the first big screen outdoor theatre in the country (January / February 2004) in the Viaduct Harbour, Downtown Auckland with grandstand seating for up to 2000 people.
After three seasons in the Viaduct Harbour, Openair Cinema changed its concept from a stationary venue to a much more flexible and mobile set-up: It takes two hours to set the whole cinema up and about one and a half to pack down after the screening has finished. This allows to move quickly and have shows each night at a different place if necessary. The same year, the company moved to Warkworth as it was unsustainable to keep it’s base on Waiheke Island, where it all started.
Since Summer 2008 Openair Cinema delivers a series of free Movie Nights for the Auckland City and North Shore City Councils, which proved to be very popular and have become important community events. The later amalgamated series ‘Movies in Parks’ for the Auckland Council attracted well over 50’000 people in its 2011 season.
With over 500 screenings so far, the company was able to adjust the operation each time and make it as efficient as possible.
The set up with the biggest outdoor screen in the country (18m wide and 11m high) is designed to host up to 5000 people.
Openair Cinema Mission Statement:
“To people who enjoy going out, Openair Cinema offers cinema entertainment in a very special environment, making it an unforgettable movie going experience.”
New Zealand film director Ian Mune says Openair is
“A fantastic facility… an amazing way to experience film. It is of a very high standard and you are lucky to have it.”
Some special events so far:
- First public Screening of ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ October 2005 in Waiheke Island (with actor Aaron Murphy and distributor John Hart)
- Premiere of ‘No 2’ 2006 (twice sold out shows) in the Viaduct Harbour with the then PM Helen Clark attending. Toa Fraser, director, as well as the cast, orchestra and many more involved in the film were present.
- First Openair Cinema “Drive-In” for Papakura District Council with 250 cars and in the same year Drive-In at the Queenstown Winter Festival
- Drive-In Cinema at the Queenstown Winter Festival 2006
- Premiere of ‘Horton hears a Who?’ and ‘Madagascar 2’ at the Auckland Zoo
(a very special setting and sold out shows – 1500 tickets)
- Premiere of ‘Valkyrie’ at MOTAT (first screening at MOTAT with WWII airplanes, tanks and dressed up personnel creating a unique atmosphere — we even used tanks and a cannon to tie down the screen)
- Indoor screenings at the TSB Showplace in New Plymouth during the Taranaki Arts Festvial and at Bruce Mason Centre for the NZ Ballet Society.
- Indoor red carpet premiere of ‘Show of Hands’ in New Plymouth (sold out premiere)
- Short Film Festival at AK07 at Britomart (Openair Cinema organized and managed an international short film festival during the Auckland Arts Festival in 2007 with entries from all over the world)
- 2007 to 2014 Endless Summer Festival in Whangarei
- Pre-premiere of Taika Waititis ‘Boy’ at Waihau Bay 2010
- Co-produced the “biggest screen” Drive-In in NZ at Baypark in Tauranga 2011
- Classic Hits Drive In Cinema in Taupo 2012
- Drive-In Cinema at University of Canterbury’s Winterlude 2011/2012
- First DCP Outdoor NZ Premiere – Rio2 at Smales Farm, Takapuna 2014
- Free council-funded community events including the very popular Movies by Moonlight (former North Shore City Council) and Auckland Council Movies in Parks series