Sydney-based Richard Sheffield and Wellington-based Larry Parr will launch New Zealand distribution entity Premiere Filmed Entertainment with the Australian hit film The Dish. The film, which had revenues of $16.8m from Australian cinemas alone will be released mid-year as a joint venture with its producers, Melbourne-based Working Dog.

The film, about Australia's role in broadcasting the Apollo 11 moon landing to the world, has already earned $168,000 from a limited six screens in North America after 12 days. It is due to get a wider release next month.

Premiere plans to release eight to 10 films per annum theatrically and make double that number available for video and television. Sheffield said local New Zealand films would be very important to the operation. Those made under a "no budget" scheme funded by the New Zealand Film Commission and run out of Parr's Kahukura Productions are also likely to be channelled through Premiere should a theatrical release be justified. First to meet the criteria will be writer/director Grant Lahood's Kombi Nation, which Parr produced with Ainsley Gardiner. It will got out later in the year after The Dish.

New Zealand has very few locally-owned distributors, most being offshoots either of US studios or Australian-owned independents, although video distributors Stage Door Entertainment and Metropolis Film did add theatrical distribution to their operations only this month.