Open-Air Cinema Ltd. has been trading under the name Openair Cinema for over 14 years in New Zealand. The company successfully operated from Paihia and Whangarei in the north to Queenstown and Christchurch in the south. However, in the last two years a competing cinema from Australia has been operating under the same name in Western Springs, which lead to confusion among patrons, distributors and advertisers. “There was no way to fight for our right to use the name, due to the newcomers being owned by one of the biggest media companies in Australasia, so we decided to make the best out of it”, declares Urs Bauer, one of the directors of the Kiwi-owned and operated Open-Air Cinema Ltd. “In recent years, we acquired a couple of indoor screens including a decent surround-sound system, which allows us to offer indoor screenings, alongside the Drive-In Cinema solution, which we already have for up to 300 cars. This new expansion meant that the changing of the trading name to The Travelling Cinema Company to include these services was seen as an opportunity. This time the name was trademarked to secure it from future competition benefiting from the company's image.
The Travelling Cinema Company is based in Warkworth, Auckland. However, as the name would suggest, it is prepared to provide their services to all corners of the country. Through years of working alongside them, it has a great relationship with film distributors and event organisers, and their customer oriented service will remain as one of the keystones in their intentions. “We always do our best to bring top cinema quality to our screenings, whether they be at the beach, in the mountains, in parks or in urban spaces, town halls, event centres or even swimming pools”, explains Bauer.
Open-Air Cinema Ltd. was founded by Urs and Denise Bauer in July 2003 as a family business with the intention 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, Auckland CBD with grandstand seating for up to 2000 people.
After three seasons in the Viaduct Harbour, they changed their concept from a stationary venue to a 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 it to move quickly and produce shows each night at a different location if necessary.
The company delivers the ‘Auckland Council Movies in Parks’ series since summer 2008. With over 700 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.
Among their big successes are; the first public screenings of ‘The World's Fastest Indian’ on Waiheke Island and ‘No 2’ at the Viaduct Harbour; pre-screenings of ‘Horton hears a Who?’ and ‘Madagascar 2’ at the Auckland Zoo; the premiere of ‘Valkyrie’ at MOTAT; the indoor red carpet premiere of ‘Show of Hands’ in the TSB Theatre, New Plymouth; the pre-premiere of Taika Waititi's ‘Boy’ at Waihau Bay 2010; the first DCP Outdoor NZ Premiere of ‘Rio2’ at Smales Farm, Takapuna, in 2014. Concerning drive-in screenings, the company operated the first drive-in for Papakura District Council with 250 cars in 2006, co-produced the biggest screen drive-in in New Zealand at Baypark in Tauranga 2011, and co-produced the very successful first issue of the NZ Horror Fest at ASB Showgrounds in 2017.