In 1946, admission to the cinema peaked at 1.64 billion a year – an average of 36 visits per year per person. Fast forward to 2010, and you find that while the number of film we watch per year has almost tripled (81), cinema admissions totalled just 169.2m.
With so many different ways to enjoy a film, we have to ask what cinema chains are planning for their secret weapon in the new world order? The answer, of course, is digital.
At the end of 2011, two-thirds of all cinema screens are digital, with a prediction of a complete takeover by 2013. The driver for the digital switchover is mostly consumer demand, fuelled by higher expectations due to huge improvement of the in-home viewing experience and an insatiable appetite for digital box office successes.
Aside from 3D capabilities, a rapidly growing area that digital enables is ‘alternative content’, such as sport, music, theatre and even gaming. In 2010 revenues from the 54 ‘Alternative Content’ screenings totalled £7.9m in comparison to just £200k in 2004.
For advertisers, cinema’s place on the media plan is secured by the impact and engagement it delivers, plus the desirability of the audience it attracts. For fickle and elusive 15-24 year olds for example, cinema is still the most popular way to consume films.
From my point of view the key to this commercial success must be flexibility. Cinema revenue grew to £207m in 2010, but its historic analogue inflexibility has shown in its slowdown in revenue growth overall.
If cinema is to become bigger than a 2% medium, cinema advertising companies like Digital Cinema Media and Pearl & Dean need to make sure the digital strategy meets advertiser’s requirements. This means offering flexibility such as short term packages, day parts, multi-copy propositions and easier cheaper production.
If the sales teams get the sell right along with the content creators use of digital, then cinema has the potential to go to infinity and beyond.
Sources: BFI/CAA Rentrak, BFI Statistical yearbook, Rentrak EDI,
CAA Film Monitor, UK Film Council, Harris Interactive and