Theatrical Market Statistics 2016

MPAA_Cover_2016-230x300The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has released its 2016 Theatrical Market Statistics. The report finds that, in 2016, the global box office for all films released in each country around the world reached $38.6 billion, up one percent from 2015.

The domestic (U.S. & Canada) box office was $11.4 billion, which grew two percent, while the international box office was $27.2 billion in U.S. dollars, the same as 2015, despite the increased strength of the U.S. dollar and slower growth in China. The international box office now comprises 71 percent of the global box office.

The number of cinema screens increased by eight percent worldwide in 2016 to nearly 164,000, due in large part to continued double-digit growth in the Asia-Pacific region (+18%).

The number of digital screens (+17%) and Premium Large Format screens (+11%) also saw double-digit growth globally. The number of digital screens in the United States has now increased to 98 percent of all U.S. screens. Ninety-five percent of the world’s cinema screens are now digital.

The highest grossing U.S. & Canada box office films in 2016 were as follows:

  1. Finding Dory (Disney): $486.3
  2. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Disney): $408.2
  3. Captain America: Civil War (Disney): $408.1
  4. The Secret Life of Pets (Universal): $368.4
  5. The Jungle Book (Disney): $364.0

In 2016, the U.S. & Canada box office was $11.4 billion, up two percent from $11.1 billion in 2015. Tickets sold (1.32 billion) held steady compared to 2015. Three of the top five grossing films in 2016 attracted majority-female audiences. Finding Dory drew the largest proportion of females, with 55 percent of its box office coming from women. The Jungle Book drew the most ethnically diverse audience, followed by Finding Dory and Captain America: Civil War.

The total number of films released theatrically was 718, which was an increase of one percent from 2015. MPAA members, which are the major studios, released 139 films, down five percent in 2016 compared to 2015. Independents continued to release the most films domestically with 579 films, up three percent from 2015.

For further information, see:


Stephens Lawyers congratulates Mark Litwak, 2017 Southern California Super Lawyer

Litwak2Our good friend Mark Litwak, film and entertainment attorney based in Los Angeles, has once again been recognised on the Southern Californian Super Lawyers list as one of the top attorneys in Southern California for 2017.

This is the eighth time Mark has earned this distinction.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a rigorous process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates, and peer reviews by practice area.

For more information, see:

Why you need a Will – what you need to know


Stephens92454_024 Lawyer’s Senior Associate Claire Maddocks shares her knowledge on why you need a Will and the issues you need to be aware of.

When we talk to people about their will, they often say:

  • “I’m not old enough to need a will”
  • “I don’t have anything”
  • “It all goes to my family”.

However, if you’re are adult and have assets, then yes you need a will.  Having assets, doesn’t necessarily mean owning your own home. If you die and have assets exceeding $15,000 in total, then a formal grant of administration from the High Court is required before they can be dealt with or bills paid.

While we might not like to think about what will happen to our belongings when we die, making a will ensures that your wishes will be carried out, including:

  • Who you want to be in charge of dealing with your assets – i.e. ‘executors & trustees’
  • Who will receive or benefit from your assets – i.e. ‘beneficiaries’
  • Any specific instructions regarding organ donation, your funeral, and cremation or burial
  • Any specific gifts of personal items or money that you would like to make?

Very specific rules apply to the administration of Estates.  If you die without a will and are ‘intestate’ then the Administration Act states who can and cannot apply for administration and who is to benefit from your Estate. This may not be the people you intended to appoint or wished to benefit.

For example, if you are married and have children but are intestate (you don’t have a will) when you die, the Administration Act 1969 says:

  • Your spouse is ‘first in line’ to apply for administration of your estate;
  • Your spouse is entitled to receive your personal chattels (i.e. anything that can be moved including vehicles, boats, aircraft. horses, equipment for them, furniture, household effects, clothing, jewellery and watches), a payment of $155,000.00 (with interest – which accrues from date of death until time funds are actually paid out) and 1/3 of anything that remains after that;
  • Your children receive the remaining 2/3 share of your assets after allowing for the above.

The Act also covers what happens if you are unmarried, have no surviving children or other descendants but have siblings or grandparents, or aunts and uncles surviving you.   If you have no surviving family members at all, your assets pass to the State.
You may have a will but the named executors may have died before you, you named your spouse but have since formally dissolved your marriage, or perhaps the person named does not wish to apply and has renounced their right to deal with your estate.  Back we go again to the Administration Act to see who is next in line to apply for administration.

The Act also specifies the people that you have a ‘moral’ obligation to provide for under your will. We will advise you further regarding these obligations if need be.

 What do you need to do?

Provide information to us including: assets and liabilities, your family position, who you want to appoint to handle your estate and who you wish to benefit on your death.  A will can then be drafted for your consideration.

  • Any jointly owned assets pass to the surviving owner.
  • Any assets which belong to a family trust (even if you are a Trustee of the Trust) are dealt with in accordance with the terms of the Trust Deed, not your will.


  • Getting married revokes any will you may have, unless you make in in contemplation of marrying that same person;
  • Formal dissolution of marriage does not revoke your will, but your will is read as if that person had died before you so any entitlement they may have had lapses.

Don’t just sign your will and forget about it. Your will needs to be reviewed from time to time to make sure that it continues to meet your wishes and family circumstances and is appropriate.

Claire Maddocks, Stephens Lawyers
DDI: 04 915 9586


Retirement Villages – what you need to know

92454_024We’re often approached by clients who
are thinking about moving into a retirement
village or who have parents who are
considering making such a move.

Stephens Lawyer’s Senior Associate Claire
Maddocksshares her knowledge on the subject
and the issues you need to be aware of.

When reviewing client’s Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney or Family Trusts Claire’s frequently told, “I’d never live in a retirement home/village”. However, as people are living longer, they are not always able to manage the upkeep on the family home or find their home far too big for their needs, it can make sense to consider moving to a smaller, lower maintenance property or a retirement village.

Traditional ‘retirement homes’ are fast being replaced by retirement villages offering a variety of levels of care on site. You will have seen advertisements for ‘lifestyle’ villages run by retirement village operators such as Ryman Healthcare, Summerset, Metlifecare, and others.

Depending on which village you are looking at, facilities and care levels will differ. Options for accommodation include serviced apartments with shared communal spaces i.e. swimming pool/garden, independent townhouses or apartments, rest home care or hospital care.

If you are considering moving to a village, take the time to visit several different villages to see what they offer and what will suit your needs best.

Rather than receiving a ‘title’ to your chosen residence at a village, you enter into an Occupation Right Agreement which sets out the terms of your purchase, village rules that apply, contributions for services at the village and what happens if you need to move from say an independent apartment to rest home care.

Buying into a retirement village is a lifestyle choice as opposed to an investment. There are significant costs involved at the time of purchase and, when you leave your chosen residence at the village, your residence reverts to the village operator.

You need to be aware of those costs and balance them against the lifestyle associated with living in a retirement village. While living in a retirement village doesn’t suit everyone, many regard the trade-off as being worthwhile.

We recommend that you discuss any proposed purchase at a retirement village with us to ensure it meets your requirements and you fully understand what you are buying, and whether it best suits your circumstances.

For further information, see ‘Planning for living in a retirement village – a check list:


Claire Maddocks, Stephens Lawyers

DDI: 04 915 9586



The Outlook for Someday film challenge

Lukas Wolfgram,  winner of the 'Stephens Lawyers Media Empowerment Award' with Outlook for Someday 2016 Awards Presenters, Ms Frankie Adams & Ms Kati Wolfe, & Michael Stephens

Lukas Wolfgram, winner of the ‘Stephens Lawyers Media Empowerment Award’ with Outlook for Someday 2016 Awards Presenters, Ms Frankie Adams & Ms Kati Wolfe, & Michael Stephens

Stephens Lawyers principal Michael Stephens had the pleasure of attending the The Someday Awards red-carpet ceremony on 8 December 2016 at the Aotea Centre in Auckland. This year’s Someday Challenge attracted 115 entries from which 39 were shortlisted, and 20 of which received awards.

Two strongly personal family tribute films scooped 2016’s top honours in The Outlook for Someday film challenge.

The Body Shop Standout Winner, ‘Dog Island Motu Piu’, a film by 15-year-old Sarah Ridsdale celebrates her uncle’s role in creating a haven for New Zealand’s native flora and fauna that is also an eco-tourism destination. In ‘Dog Island Motu Piu’ two young tuatara hear from their grandfather about how Peter Ridsdale, who died in June this year, founded the Dog Island Motu Piu Charitable Trust to preserve and promote the sustainability of the island. The 5-minute film has also won the Department of Conservation Big Picture Award.’

The winner of the online vote for the New Zealand On Air Audience Favourite ‘Our Superheroes’ is another heartfelt tribute to the memory of a beloved family member. In ‘Our Superheroes’ 12-year-old Luka Wolfgram shares his family’s journey alongside his younger brother Kosta who endured cancer leading to his death in March this year. The 5-minute documentary, which also features other child cancer heroes, has attracted international media attention and thousands of online views, prompting donations to child cancer charities.

Robyn Kiddle, Chief Executive of the Child Cancer Foundation, said: “Luka has captured with such honesty and love an experience that no child, parent or sibling should have to go through.

“I know ‘Our Superheroes’ hit home for many of our families and the Child Cancer Foundation team. We are so proud of him for having the bravery to share this tribute to his little brother Kosta.”

Luka’s film has also won the Stephens Lawyers Media Empowerment Award.

Michael Stephens, Managing Director of Stephens Lawyers, said: “Luka has done an amazing job of bravely sharing a very poignant story. For a 12-year-old film-maker he is to be congratulated. We are proud to be part of supporting him and all the film-makers involved in The Outlook for Someday.”

For more information on this year’s winning films can be found here:



ScreenSafe, an initiative of the NZ Techos’ Guild, is a sector-wide health and safety programme to support safe workplaces for all screen sector participants and create a culture where everyone is empowered to contribute to safe work practices.

It follows the introduction of new health and safety legislation and has received funding from the New Zealand Film Commission, NZ On Air, SPADA, industry guilds and organisations.

The ScreenSafe website includes the new Health and Safety Guidelines, updated from the former Code of Practice to meet the requirements of the Health and Safety Work Act 2015, which came into effect on 4 April.

Stephens Lawyers commends ScreenSafe’s Chair David Strong for leading this initiative.

Mr Strong said with the new Act’s focus on managing risk and increasing responsibilities, the core message for the sector was that everyone is now responsible.

“It’s up to everyone, no matter the scale of production, from those running the show to those working on it, to support a safe and healthy production. With the ScreenSafe website, we have one central and free location for everyone to learn and understand our obligations under the Act.”

A presentation for the screen sector is being held in Wellington on Wednesday 20 April at 6.30pm at the St James Theatre’s Hospitality Suite on the 1st Floor.

For more information please contact:
Michael Stephens or Alan Henwood at Stephens Lawyers

New Employment Legislation



New employment legislation will come into force from 1 April following the Employment Standards Legislation passing its third reading in parliament on 10 March 2016.

The legislation will:

  • Extend paid parental leave (PPL) to more employees and increase the flexibility of the scheme.
    Note that the duration of paid parental leave from 14 to 18 weeks also takes effect from 1 April 2016;
  • Strengthen enforcement of employment standards by, amongst other measures increasing sanctions against employers for the most serious breaches of the Act; and
  • Address issue such as ‘zero-hour contracts and other unfair employment practices.

The Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety Minister, Hon Michael Woodhouse, said “The Bill eliminates zero hour contracts by getting rid of unfair employment practices where employers do not commit any hours of work, but expect employees to be available when required without compensation.

“The Bill also extends PPL entitlements to more workers, including casual and seasonal workers, and primary carers other than biological and formal adoptive parents. It also increases the flexibility of the scheme.

“Parents of premature babies will also benefit from additional weeks of parental leave payments (which could be as many as 13 weeks extra) to better support them during what can be a particularly challenging time.

“The changes to PPL recognise the diversity of modern work and family arrangements and aim to better support families by making it easier for parents to stay connected to the workforce. The enforcement of minimum employment standards will also be strengthened with tougher sanctions for employers who intentionally breach minimum standards, increased tools for labour inspectors and clearer record keeping requirements.”

For more information, see:

To ensure your business stays compliant with the new legislation, please contact:
Michael Stephens or Alan Henwood at Stephens Lawyers on 04 915 9580


Health and safety: Providing protective gear


The Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has provided useful guidelines for employers who provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to their employees to enable employers to comply with the new Health & Safety legislation which takes effect in April 2016.

Before providing PPE, you should first ask whether there is a better way of dealing with the risk. Can the risk be eliminated? If not, how can you best control the risk?

If PPE is needed, your business is responsible for supplying appropriate PPE. You can do this in two ways – by buying the PPE yourself, or through allowances added to your workers’ pay. The cost of PPE must be covered by the business. Workers must take responsibility for wearing and using it properly.

For more information, see: 

If you are concerned about ensuring your business stays compliant with the new legislation, please contact:
Michael Stephens or Alan Henwood at Stephens Lawyers on 04 915 9580