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Village system forces its way into heart of Bollywood

By Aimee McClinchy

Friday 8th September 2000

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An electronic cinema ticketing system jointly owned by the newly formed Infinity Group and Village Force has won a $1 million deal with India's massive "Bollywood" market.

The Vista Entertainment Systems technology is also on trial with a UK-based multinational chain, Spean Bridge, in Scotland and is under negotiation in Hong Kong.

The system, which allows cinema workers to sell tickets and food from the one box, allowing fewer staff to be on the floor, has been rolled out in all Village Force cinemas in New Zealand, Fiji and Argentina since Village commissioned it as part of technology revamp four years ago.

Half-owned by Village Force and computer specialist Madison Group, which recently merged into the $100 million Infinity Group, it has been sold to countries including Singapore, Malaysia and the US.

But co-founder Murray Holdaway, brother of Force Corporation company secretary Peter Holdaway, said the $1 million deal with an Indian chain was a huge coup.

Mr Holdaway said 15 of the 180 Indian sites were already live and there was possibilities for thousands more.

"India is the second biggest cinema market in the world after the US and this chain shows both Bollywood [Indian romantic movies] and Hollywood movies.

"Indians are huge movie goers and the cinemas there have one huge screen with 2000-3000 seats," Mr Holdaway said.

He said Vista had an advantage over other technology companies because it was one of the first electronic players in that market: many cinemas in India still manually ripped paper tickets.

Mr Holdaway said the deal with Spean Bridge would open doors to the European market.

"It's just the start of many," he said.

He was in the process of signing a distributor in the US, where the system already runs with an independent chain.

Vista's product is based on Microsoft applications and has an advantage over others because its generic form can be adapted to deal with all types of tax, languages and regulations.

It can also run English and foreign languages simultaneously at each cinema site and can cope with the way movies' titles often don't always translate literally in other languages.

Mr Holdaway said now Vista was part of the Infinity Group, formed by former Brierley executives Bruce Hancock, Paul Collins and Patsy Reddy, he was looking at how the product could be delivered over an application service provider (ASP) model as a rental product for other small independent cinemas in New Zealand.

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