By Ellie G

The cinema industry is currently on its knees. Struggling to hold onto what little audience it has left. Streaming services have surged in popularity in recent years offering a short wait for film-viewing in the comfort of your own home. Recently, Netflix announced they will produce the film Crouching Tiger, effectively stealing cinemas monopoly on film release and skipping the entire process. Year-on-year admission numbers continue to drop and to compensate ticket prices continue their steady increase. But is it the ticket price that’s putting us off attending the cinema? Or is the annoyance of other audience members? Unfortunately, no. There is a much more fundamental issue at the heart of the industry and that’s its lack of innovation and unwillingness to engage with it’s audience.

In a talk late last year the CEO of Digital Cinema Media, Simon Rees, tackled the issue head on. Speaking at the first Cinema of the Future conference he stated:

“Cinema is going through a phase of resetting itself,” said the executive during a panel on the digital landscape. “It’s learning pretty quickly that it needs to reset itself in the eyes of its customers.

“The quality of the content is strong – the big screen experience is strong – but the key challenge is in cinemas’ relationships with their audiences.

“I’d argue that that relationship to a large extent isn’t inside the cinema. It’s about how cinema engages its audience through mobile and social media”.

Andrew Turner, UK and Ireland sales director at 20th Century Fox,  reiterated Rees’ statements acknowledging that cinema is not solely reliant on strong content,  “It’s not just about the film. It’s the presentation, the staff, customer service, and more.  It’s the whole experience that needs to be judged.”

The facts:

  • On average, UK cinema attendance is down 4% year-on-year since 2000.
  • UK ticket prices have had a 50% increase since 2006.
  • In 1945 cinema attendance in the UK was 1756 (millions) its now at 169 million.
  • In the UK there are currently 6 screens per every 100,000 people
  • Odeon, Vue and Cineworld own over 60% of these.

Obviously, cinema is not the industry it once was.  Every other industry has kept up with its market- yet the cinema industry has continued to fail its audience.

In an age of social media, streaming and constant distraction the cinema industry has remained silent. It has done nothing to innovate, change or improve. It has sat out of the entertainment industry  tussle, and as a result has become complacent. It is like a child, who stops talking to his friends and then wonders why none of them are still around.

However, it is not too late for cinema to make a comeback. The love of film and sharing the cinema experience is something that is still desired. The industry needs to realise that the cinema experience is about more than a big screen. It’s a highly social and human desire to share stories and engage with characters- the irony being that the industry has been unable to reciprocate this with its attendees. 

The cinema industry needs to be radicalised. This has to be done by creating a brand new societal, communal and immersive experience both in person and online. Cinemas need to reconnect with its audiences by: listening to its audience, lowering ticket prices, repaying loyalty and engaging with its audience on every available platform.

Cinema is going through a phase of rebuilding itself. It needs to do this brick-by-brick , and throughout be guiding it’s consumers through its new design.