Dendy Icon group CEO Sharon Strickland looks for growth

Sharon Strickland.

Finally confirmed as CEO of the Dendy Icon group, Sharon Strickland is keen to continue the company’s growth in exhibition and distribution.

Ticket sales at the 43-screen Dendy circuit are up 26 per cent this year after the opening of the 10-screen Coorparoo cinema in Brisbane last December and the expansion of the Dendy Canberra location from 9 to 15 screens in June 2017.

“We have a very loyal community who value our differentiated movie offering,” says Strickland, formerly the chief operating officer who has been running the company since CEO Greg Hughes departed last December.

The first Dendy Cinema on the Gold Coast will be part of the new Queen Street Village development.

Bruce Davey, Dendy Icon chairman and co-owner with Mel Gibson said: “Sharon has been a tremendous asset to our business over the last eight years and I’m delighted to appoint her to the leadership position to continue to strengthen and grow the business.”

In the past couple of months Icon Film Distribution has achieved good results with Björn Runge’s The Wife ($2.8 million), animated sci-fi adventure Luis and the Aliens ($365,000) and Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s feature documentary RBG ($337,000).

Stephen McCallum’s debut feature 1%, a crime drama starring Matt Nable, Ryan Corr, Josh McConville, Aaron Pedersen, Abbey Lee and Simone Kessell, will open on 70-plus screens on October 18.

“We are very pleased with the response to 1% and fortunate to have access to key talent who will be busy with exhibitor events in the lead up to the release,” Strickland tells IF.

Icon should have a sizable hit in January with Anthony Maras’ Hotel Mumbai judging by the critical acclaim at the Toronto International Film Festival.

The drama based on the 2008 terrorist attacks on the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, which stars Dev Patel, Armie Hammer, Nazanin Boniadi and Tilda Cobham-Hervey, will have its Australian premiere at the Adelaide Film Festival in October.

Icon is in active development on a number of Australian films. The distributor will release 15 titles this year and has confirmed 14 for 2019. “We showcased some of our 2019 slate at the Movie Convention and received positive feedback from exhibitors,” she said.

The first quarter line-up includes Craig Zahler’s Dragged Across Concrete, an action drama starring Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn and Don Johnson; Mélanie Laurent’s Galveston, a thriller featuring Elle Fanning, Lili Reinhart and Ben Foster; Rowan Athale’s Strange But True, a drama with Greg Kinnear, Brian Cox and Blythe Danner; and Oliver Parker’s Swimming with Men, a comedy toplining Rob Brydon, Jim Carter and Rupert Graves.