Going to the cinema has long been a favourite pastime for many of us. There’s nothing quite like visiting your local cinema and watching a film on the big screen while munching on popcorn and other snacks. While many of us enjoy the whole cinema experience, there’s been talk in recent years of cinemas becoming less popular and possibly facing the prospect of going out of business. So just what is going on with the cinema industry? Is it still going strong or is it under threat?
The cinema industry today
Going to the cinema is still a very popular activity. Last year, we made just over 170 million trips to the cinema in the UK – nearly three per person. This statistic has remained fairly steady over the last decade or so. In fact, we made over 6 million more visits to cinemas in 2017 than we did back in 2007. In other words, the UK cinema industry is still going strong. However, there’s no denying that it faces increasing amounts of competition.
Threats to the cinema industry
One of the biggest advances in recent years has been the rise of the subscription-based streaming service. Netflix is the biggest one and it’s had a huge impact on our viewing habits. We still watch TV shows and films the traditional way, i.e. on TV, though many of us find the on-demand way of viewing content a lot more convenient and appealing. Some think that in the coming years, there’ll be a generation split, with older people used to the traditional cinema experience still going and younger people used to on-demand streaming services favouring these services instead. It’s common practice for newly released films to be shown in cinemas exclusively for a few months (usually 12 weeks in the US, 16 in the UK), with the end of a film’s cinema run followed by DVD/download releases. However, there’s been talk of cinema runs for films being shortened, with premium services offering on-demand delivery of new films to your device, just a few weeks after its cinema release, or even on the day of its release. It all comes down to money: people these days generally prefer being able to watch things in their own time and from the comfort of their own home. If they can watch the latest releases at home, even for a cost, many would. The traditional release format could well see a shake-up in the coming years, if the film industry decides it’s going to try to appeal to today’s on-demand viewers. If this does happen, it’s only a matter of time before cinemas become less popular – why make the trip to a cinema to see a film when you can watch it at home? There will always be those who want the complete cinema experience, but will they be enough to keep cinemas alive?
The future of cinemas
Cinemas aren’t going anywhere any time soon – visitor numbers are still strong enough. However, our viewing habits have changed a lot over the last few years and we’ve started preferring more convenient ways of watching TV shows and films. Streaming services are hugely popular, yet they’re able to co-exist alongside traditional TV channels – what about cinemas though? Will the cinema experience one day become obsolete? Will cinemas become increasingly less popular with the younger generation? If newly released films can be streamed at home, will this eventually lead to the collapse of cinemas? There’s a high chance something is going to happen to change the traditional release format of new films – let’s just hope that whatever happens, it doesn’t have an adverse effect on cinemas.