Kimbal Riley is chief executive of Vista Group, the Auckland maker of cinema management and marketing software used worldwide – which came back from a Covid slump to be one of the NZX’s top performers of 2021.
How would you describe 2021 for your business?
A year of really strong progress and innovation. After a pretty tough pandemic hit to the film and cinema industry in 2020, I’m super proud of what our team has delivered in 2021. We’ve kept our focus on our core promises – looking after our people, looking after our customers, creating innovation and we have delivered in all three of these areas.
How is your business planning to tackle 2022?
Our core promises remain consistent. We will be pushing ahead with our cloud platform
transformation and flexing our innovation muscles across the Vista Group connecting the entire film value chain. We hope to be able to have more in-person meetings with our people, our customers, our partners and our industry than has been possible in the previous years.
What will be the major challenges and/or opportunities for your industry?
The film industry will remain a huge part of the cultural landscape globally, with a tremendous focus on delivering great content through great experiences. We continue to see the cinema experience as an integral part of this as audiences around the world consume content in a wide variety of ways.
How do you think the Government has handled the Covid-19 crisis?
2020 was pretty good but 2021 I’d say just barely a pass mark. Too slow to take on innovation and the foresight of what was happening around the globe. It appears that at a number of junctures there has been an almost complete lack of forward planning or preparation.
What was the most interesting non-Covid story of 2021?
I’m not sure I’d describe this as the most interesting, but the most troubling aspect of 2021 (which is a continuation of a trend over recent years) for me has been the erosion of confidence in institutions we should be able to trust.
What are your predictions for 2022?
I believe that we will be able to collectively deal with Covid with vaccinations and preventative treatment and leave the lockdown responses behind us – not just in New Zealand, but around the world. For our industry, I see a tsunami of incredible content coming to screens around the world and an industry intent on delivering memorable experiences to audiences.
What’s the worst mistake you’ve made in business?
In a business sense I turned down an opportunity to go to Silicon Valley in the early 1980s which is still a moment of regret. BUT it turned out for the better as I finally wore down my now wife to settle down and that’s a far greater win.
What was your favourite movie of 2021?
The Man in the Hat was my favourite 2021 movie – a French movie in which the main character speaks only two words.
What films are you looking forward to in the year ahead?
I’m really looking forward to Dune (I read the book when it came out which
dates me a bit), and Avatar 2 which I’m told looks awesome.
What series will you be streaming over the holidays?
We’ve gone back in time and we’re re-watching The Sopranos. An absolute classic!
Where are you holidaying this summer?
Auckland and the Coromandel.
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