• Sat, 11, Apr, 2020 - 5:00:AM

Why NZ’s coolest cinema just went on demand

Once upon a time, entering Auckland’s Academy Cinema was like entering a prohibition-era speakeasy. The first challenge was finding the door (and not ending up in the Auckland Central Library). Then you’d descend about a hundred flights of stairs until a dimly lit lounge emerged.

At least, that’s how I remember it.

Now it’s like entering your Netflix homepage. The difference being there are more than two New Zealand films on the platform, and the LGBTQI+ section doesn’t feel like some stinky backroom that was never meant to be seen by the light of day.

Of course, I’m exaggerating. Netflix have done nothing but step up their game in recent years. But it’s not the place to turn for the latest low-budget vision coming out of Porirua… or Paris. You certainly won’t find Parasite on there. Nor will you come across Waru.

You’ll find both of those titles on the newly-launched Academy OnDemand. We spoke to the staff to find out more.  

How important do you think it is to support local and independent cinema, especially now?

Independent cinemas like Academy Cinemas have certainly been hit hard by the level four lockdown; we've had many fans reach out to say how much they miss trekking down to our underground cinema and chatting with us about their favourite movies. But that community flavour won't be going anywhere – we're staying in touch with our fans via social media and will be having weekly film chats and carefully curating our line-up to ensure our OnDemand members stay entertained throughout these uncertain times. We appreciate you all want to support us, but we are here to support you too! 

How did Academy OnDemand come about? 

We've been working on Academy OnDemand for many months now! We hoped to launch it as a 'third screen' in addition to the two at our venue in Auckland – we had so many movies releasing each month and the more ways to share them with our audiences, the better! But after last month's temporary closure of the cinema due to COVID-19, OnDemand became our single screen! The timing was right for us to launch a little early and thanks to the generous support of many film distribution companies, we've launched with an enormous line-up of films!

Which titles are you most excited about?

If you ask any of our staff members that question, you'll get totally different answers! That's why we've added a little "Staff Picks" section at the top of our website, so you can get personal recommendations from many of our staff members. One thing we're all particularly proud of is the addition of some independent and foreign films. We noticed a lack of such films on other on-demand services and we hope Academy OnDemand can fill that gap.

Will Academy OnDemand continue post-lockdown?

Absolutely! We hope to continue growing our catalogue of films each month and, once we inevitably reopen later in the year, Academy OnDemand will receive just as much attention. It's here to stay!

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

We're so pleased with the positive response to Academy OnDemand! A lot of people have reached out to tell us how much they missed us. We're excited to once again have the opportunity to talk about films and look after movie-lovers nationwide while we're all in this lockdown together. 

You can check out Academy OnDemand here.


  • COVID-19 /
  • Coronavirus /
  • Cinema /
  • Movies /
  • Film /
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