There was an interesting piece in The Economist (14 June 2014) reporting that ‘old fashioned’ cinemas were successfully competing against the multiplexes. Apparently between 2004 and 2014 these traditional venues grew in number by 13% to 459 outlets. So I thought I’d take a look at one independent operator’s website to see what they did – the Rex cinema in Berkhamsted.
Very usefully they outline on their website what they think their order winners are:
- ” The repertoire is diverse, exciting and busy – over 30 films a month on one screen, from big blockers to tiny obscure titles.
- The surroundings are civilised and enticing, the atmosphere warm.
- The welcome absolute, the ambience cool, the anticipation electrifying.
- The tickets are cheap.
- There is no popcorn, no flacid hotdogs.
- You can have a drink anywhere in the auditorium. Downstairs you can be served at table.
- The audience is not ‘captive’.
- There is no extra charge for being here.”
Some further analysis might help. Firstly, the nature of film distribution has changed, since it has now been digitised – making it much cheaper and faster, and thereby helping to keep operating costs down. Second, this technology also enables the screening of live events, such as opera and sports, which make up a significant proportion of the independents’ repertoire.
But most importantly, in 2002 only 18% of the cinema audience was aged over 45, but by 2012 this proportion had grown to 36%. According to The Economist this was because more films were made that appealed to this demographic, and it is this age group that is most likely to go to independent cinemas. But those of us in OM would argue, that it is the independents’ ability to put together a combination of order winners that met this market’s needs really driving the growth.