Village Roadshow’s Graham Burke to stand down at end of year

Graham Burke, the CEO of Village Roadshow, is to step down at the end of the year after a 60-year association with the business.

The CEO’s announcement came as the cinema, theme park and movie distribution company announced a 31% rise in EBITDA to $65m on the back of a 2.2% improvement in operating revenues to $526.5m.

Burke joined Village founder, Roc Kirby, at the age of 14 when he started as a ticket collector and floor sweeper at Kirby’s Town Hall cinema in Ararat, Victoria.

At the age of 23, Burke was appointed managing director of Kirby’s drive-in theatre business and in 1988 was appointed CEO of the then newly-listed Village Roadshow Limited.

Burke will be remaining as a non-executive director at Village Roadshow after stepping down as CEO at the end of the year. The company is to launch a search for his successor.

In its half-yearly report, the group attributed the improved financial results to strength in its theme park business which saw the division’s EBITDA jump from $29.2m to $39.7m.

The cinema exhibition arm, which covers 58 sites with 583 screens across Australia, also saw an improvement in trading conditions with a jump in EBITDA from $21.7m to $24.9m.

Village Roadshow put the cinema group’s success down to its family ticket pricing strategy and the success of titles including Bohemian Rhapsody, A Star is Born, Crazy Rich Asians and Aquaman.

The film distribution arm saw setbacks with EBITDA falling from $9.9m to $8.2m. Directors attributed the decline to the market’s shift from DVD to streaming technologies with disc revenues falling 46% year-on-year while digital increased by a third. Revenues from the two mediums are now roughly equal.

Having been in the forefront of lobbying for greater piracy protection, the company said the fight to protect rights holders is heading in the right direction.

“Piracy is heading in the right direction in Australia, with a combination of site blocking and a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign. Research shows community attitudes (like smoking in restaurants), have changed. In 2012, 66% of adults saw piracy as acceptable, down to 32% in 2018.

“With new bipartisan legislation to block sites on search engines passed late last year – the industry has the weapons to address. When implemented, it is believed a critical mass will be reached and, as in Korea, create the environment for digital growth.”

Executive chairman Robert Kirby said of Burke’s standing down: “Graham is a giant of our industry and has been an integral part of Village Roadshow. Together we have seen the evolution of this company into the incredible entertainment business it is today, Graham having been a part of it for 63 years.

“We thank him for his enduring commitment and the leadership he has shown. Graham leaves an extraordinary legacy as CEO and we look forward to his continued involvement on the Board.

“Graham’s agreement to remain on the Board ensures that his invaluable experience and knowledge will continue to benefit Village Roadshow, and allows him to provide advice and mentorship for the incoming CEO.”

Graham Burke said, “It is an honour to lead Village Roadshow. I am exceptionally proud of everything that has been achieved. I am incredibly optimistic about the future of the company and look forward to serving on the Board in support of the new CEO. I want to thank the thousands of my colleagues who come to work each day with passion and dedication to creating great entertainment experiences for our customers.

“From humble beginnings as a small cinema circuit, we’ve contributed hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy, provided employment and careers for thousands of Australians, become a mainstay in Australia’s tourism industry and been involved in the production of some of the most iconic films of all time. Having said all of that, I firmly believe the best is yet to come.”


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.