Following Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, some people may be prompted to question whether there will be a place for cinemas in future retail destinations. Here, we look at the biggest winners and discuss the ways our viewing habits are changing the role of traditional cinemas.
The film which has changed the conversation throughout the awards cycle, Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma, was the bookies’ favourite for Best Picture on Sunday night (losing controversially to Green Book). It might be concerning to some cinema operators that a film created by the streaming giant Netflix, as Roma was, can compete with those shown at our local multiplexes. Surely if people can watch the ‘best’ films from the comfort of their own homes for a pretty reasonable monthly fee, they will not make the rather pricier trip to the local cinema to catch the latest flicks.
Despite the debate over what this means for Cinema with a capital ‘C’, a film like Roma, and Netflix in general, might be more of a distraction when considering the health of cinemas themselves.
The only awards contenders to among the ten highest-grossing films in the UK last year were Black Panther (fourth) and Bohemian Rhapsody (fifth).
Apart from outliers like Titanic, Avatar and Black Panther, the highest-grossing films rarely perform on the awards circuit, so they may not be the best measure of the popularity of cinema trips.
A cursory glance at ticket sales in 2018 shows an industry in rude health, with a record-breaking 177,001,481 visits to our UK multiplexes and picture houses last year. The previous record had stood since 1970, long before VHS, DVDs, or the internet.
If I were a betting man, I would wager that we will see admissions break 180 million in 2019, as an avalanche of well-established franchises overwhelms theatres. With Toy Story 4, Frozen 2, live action remakes of Aladdin, The Lion King and Dumbo, as well as the final chapters of both the Avengers and Star Wars sagas due for release, every cinema operator will be looking forward to shifting popcorn by the ton and soft drinks by the gallon.
However, even with another record year to come, there is room for improvement. A quick poll in the Redwood office showed the vast majority of people think that cinemas are too expensive to attend more regularly. Indeed, this might even influence which outlets they go to, with Everyman and Curzon the preferred destinations for a ‘special’ trip out and Cineworld and Odeon the option for more impromptu visits.
That said, it is difficult to believe that cinemas attracting more visits than ever before would alter their pricing when they are on the up.
So what is the lesson, if any?
Cinemas are here to stay. Netflix, Amazon and Apple can throw as much money as they want at their own streaming services, they are unlikely to change habits any time soon (in the UK at least). Even the BBC/ITV ‘BritBox‘ might struggle…
Prices are high, but that is not stopping us heading along to the local picture house three times a year. The aim is, surely, to cater to all tastes, from the boutique to the multiplex. With all of this in mind, its no surprise that all of Redwood’s retail-led developments have one leisure offering in common…