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07 g322 section b exhibition 2012

  1. 1. AS Media Studies Study Notes Unit G322 Section BAudiences and InstitutionsThe Film Industry Part 7 Exhibition 106
  2. 2. What is Film Exhibition?This is the process of showing a film to an audience, mainly referring to a cinemaenvironment, but with the advent of new digital projection equipment and DVDplayers, screenings in schools, colleges, art centres and outdoor venues are futurepossibilities.Film exhibition in 2012 1. The UK had 3,767 screens, 96 more than 2010, in 745 cinemas. 2. There were six screens for every 100,000 people, the same as in 2010, but lower than countries such as the USA (12.6 screens per 100,000 people), France (9.1), Australia (8.8), Spain (8.4) and Italy (6.7). 3. The UK had the second highest number of digital screens in Europe with 2,714 screens (behind France’s 3,653 digital screens). The UK had 1,475 screens capable of screening digital 3D features (54% of all digital screens). 4. The average ticket price was £6.06. 5. 97% of all screens in the UK were located in town or city centres, ‘out of town’ or suburban locations.UK box office and admissions up in 2012Box office and admissions figures released this week show that the UK cinema sectorcontinued to perform strongly during 2012, despite the twin challenges of continuingeconomic uncertainty and a packed sporting Summer. Total box office for UK in 2012was £1,099,095,773, a figure 5.9 per cent up on that for 2011. UK admissions reached172,498,775, representing a 0.5 per cent increase on the previous year.This strong performance continued despite ongoing pressure on household incomesand the fact that the Summer months saw not just the London 2012 Olympic andParalympic Games, but also the European Football Championships and the DiamondJubilee.As might be expected, leading the charge was Skyfall, now the best-performing filmever at the UK box ffice, and the first to break the £100 million mark in ticket sales.But - as can be seen from the top ten films below - there was strong support from anumber of other movies, most notably The Dark Knight Rises and AvengersAssemble both of which themselves topped £50 million: Top ten films at UK and Ireland box office 20121.Skyfall (Sony Pictures): £101.02.The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros): £56.3m3.Marvel’s Avengers Assemble (Walt Disney): £51.9m4.The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Warner Bros): £40.8m5.The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (eOne Films): £35.5m6.Ted (Universal Pictures): £30.3m7.Ice Age: Continental Drift (20th Century Fox): £30.1m8.The Amazing Spider-Man (Sony Pictures): £25.9m9.Prometheus (20th Century Fox): £24.7m10.The Hunger Games (Lionsgate): £23.8m 107
  3. 3. While not scaling the heights of 2011, when The Kings Speech and TheInbetweeners Movie were to the fore, 2012 proved another good year for British film,with Skyfall receiving strong support from The Woman in Black and The Best ExoticMarigold Hotel: Top ten British films at UK and Ireland box office 20121.Skyfall (Sony Pictures): £101.0m2.The Woman In Black (Momentum): £21.2m3.The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (20th Century Fox): £20.3m4.The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists (Sony Pictures): £16.7m5.The Iron Lady (20th Century Fox): £9.6m6.Nativity 2: Danger In The Manger! (eOne Films): £9.1m7.Salmon Fishing In The Yemen (Lionsgate): £6.0m8. Anna Karenina (Universal Pictures): £5.5m9.The Sweeney (eOne Films): £4.5m10.Dredd (Entertainment): £4.4mWith the release of Tom Hoopers Les Miserables very early in the year, British filmagains looks like it will be a strong feature of 2013 box office. 108
  4. 4. What does a Film Exhibitor do? 1. Film bookingsAfter viewing the film from the distributors for release, the exhibitor will discuss therelease pattern and the financial deal to rent a film from the UK distributor. This isbased on projected ticket sales for a film, that is, box-office returns. The cinemaprogramming is scheduled by a film booker.Some cinema chains, multiplexes and multi-screen cinemas operate from a centralpoint or a Head Office with a booking department. The smaller cinemas have an in-house film booker responsible for programming specific films or film seasons. Thefilm booker working for each cinema chain is the person responsible for the films thatplay in each cinema. The brief for a film booker is to find films that will attract anaudience for their cinema and reap a good financial return from the box office. Theexhibitor pays the rental fee back to the distributor that is determined by the price of acinema ticket within the cinema. It is up to the exhibitor to work hand in glove withthe distributor in marketing the film to the widest possible audience.Most mainstream films are booked from three to six months in advance, and somemajor US blockbusters can be booked up to a year in advance of their UK releasedate. By July most film bookers will have scheduled the slate of films to be releasedat Christmas. 2. The cinema buildingThe exhibitor will have posters and advertisements as well as the date and times of thescreenings of current and future films outside their cinema for the interest of thegeneral public. This is an attempt to draw the attention of the public to their cinema. Apasser-by who may not have the opportunity to read a newspaper or check the internetwill perhaps be encouraged by this publicity to go and see one of the films.The foyer is the first area in the cinema that the audience experiences. Distributors viefor space in the foyer to display posters, standees and other film publicity material andmerchandising. It is the cinema managers job to make sure that the publicity iscurrent and relevant to films showing at their cinema.The exhibitor/cinema is the shop front where the film industry sells films to theaudience. The foyers are committed to publicising the films with posters, standees andconcession promotions which all advertise the film. Once you are seated in theauditorium, before the main feature, teaser trailers and trailers are shown advertisingfilms that are soon to be released all aimed at attracting a future audience. 109
  5. 5. Q1. How important is the appearance of a cinema in you returning? Useexamples from your own cinema visits. 3. Local MarketingThe exhibitors role is important in promoting a film at a local level. The distributorand exhibitor work together to maximise the audience for a film. The cinema managerdraws up a marketing plan which includes press advertising, local promotions andcompetitions.Conversely, cinema managers receive marketing information which keeps themabreast of the distributors efforts to promote a film. This document tells the cinemamanagers what is happening and ensures that a film is, at any one time, efficientlypromoted at a local level by that cinema manager. The cinema manager can bepromoting a lot of films, films currently showing and those still due for release. Thiscould easily come to ten or more in one week. 4. Concessions - why popcorn is important for the film industry…Money taken at the box office alone is not enough to give the exhibitor/cinema aprofit after paying the rental fee, especially if the film is a failure. The popcorn, ice-cream, sweets and hotdogs you can buy at the cinema are known as concessions. Theconcession stands in both multiplexes and independent cinemas provide an additionalsource of income to the exhibitor. 110
  6. 6. 5. Local pressThe most common form of marketingthat the exhibitor will undertake is tobuy space in local newspapers toadvertise the films they are screening.This space can be in free newspapersand trade papers or ones which are paidfor. These advertisements will oftenappear on the day of the filmschangeover which is usually a Friday,as many chains do between 30-60% oftheir business during the weekendperiod. Research shows thatadvertisements in local newspapers areone of the key ways in which peoplefind out about films screening at theirlocal cinema though since 1997 thishas been overturned by the increasingavailability of access to the internet. 6. Promotions and competitionsThese are part of the overall marketing plan the exhibitor has drawn up for thedistributor to maximise awareness of the film. They can take the form of competitionsin local newspapers or in the cinema foyer e.g. spot the difference games, quizzes onstars, with give-away cinema tickets, or merchandise from the distributors as prizes.This also ensures editorial coverage of the film in the local press: it is a good two-wayrelationship – the film is covered and the newspaper has something which isentertaining to fill its pages. 7. TrailersThe trailer often plays in the cinema around six weeks before the release of a film andcontinues to play until the film opens in the cinema. The trailer aims to raise audienceawareness of a film by fixing the film title in their minds. It gives an overallimpression of the film to its potential audience making sure that the audience is awareof the stars – particularly where their names will help to sell the film. A trailer shouldcreate the desire to see the film when it eventually opens.Audience - Who goes to see films?Remember - in this country the majority of the cinema going public are agedbetween about 16 and 24 years old. Statistics show that they are the group whichhave the time and money to go to the cinema. It is this age group therefore that needto be targeted by filmmakers, distributors and exhibitors to encourage them in, andthen back to, the cinema. 111
  7. 7. However, the location of new multiplex cinemas has also led to the development of amore family-catered audience – who are attracted to the nearby shopping or leisurefacilities as well as to the cinema itself.As the cinemas image has changed and become more up-market with high-grossingfilms, the price of cinema seats has reflected this change and risen dramatically. It cancost £16 or £17 to see a film in central London and yet cinema audiences continue torise. Can you think of any reasons why this is so?If the reasons are not purely economic, then the image of cinema going must surelyplay a part. The multiplex complexes are popular despite often involving a good dealof travelling beyond local public transport. We must now consider whether thecinema-goer is as interested in the facilities surrounding the cinema in which the filmis seen as in the actual film on the screen.A good, well publicised film will still draw large audiences, but faced with a poorcinema showing a good film, and a stylish cinema showing a selection of averagefilms, the general public may well opt for the more pleasant up-market surroundings. 112
  8. 8. Background to the Cinema Exhibition in the UKGo here to find out more: http://www.cinemauk.org.uk/about-the-industry/Most of the screens in the UK are owned by one of the major cinema chains. Vue,UCI/Odeon or Cineworld.The cinema sector is still in some turmoil at present with two major chains havingbeen sold in the last 10 years (Warner Village Cinemas was bought by Vue cinemasin 2003) and up to three others available for sale. (May 13, 2003) Vue International Cinemas, the developer and operator of state-of-the-art-cinemas, today announced its acquisition of the Warner Village Cinema chain in theUK. The purchase of 36 Warner Village sites nationwide boosts its number of multiplex cinemas from 6 to 42 overall with a total of 384 UK screensThe advent of digital cinema may change this landscape somewhat, but no-one is yetmaking the necessary investment in digital projection equipment and distributionsystems. The UK Film Council are supporting independent cinemas acquisition ofdigital technology. The worlds first digital cinema network will be established in the UK over the next 18 months. The UK Film Council has awarded a contract worth £11.5m to Arts Alliance Digital Cinema (AADC), who will set up the network of up to 250 screens. AADC will oversee the selection of cinemas across the UK which will use the digital equipment.High definition projectors and computer servers will be installed to show mainly British and specialist films. Most cinemas currently have mechanical projectors but the new 113
  9. 9. network will see up to 250 screens in up to 150 cinemas fitted with digital projectors capable of displaying high definition images. The new network will double the worldstotal of digital screens. Cinemas will be given the film on a portable hard drive and they will then copy the content to a computer server. (BBC News Feb 2005)More recently, Cineworld snapped up the arthouse cinema chain Picturehouse, ownerof the Ritzy cinema in south London and the Phoenix in Oxford, in a deal worth£47.3m. The deal unites two very different cinema chains, with Picturehouses filmscatering for an older, more highbrow audience while Cineworlds mass-marketmultiplexes tend to attract 18- to 24-year-olds interested in the latest 3D blockbusters.Cinemagoers at the Clapham Picture House, south London, on Thursday night did notwelcome the news. Rachel Smith, who lives locally and takes her children to thecinema, feared it would become less independent. "I think its awful," she said."Cineworld is big and faceless and cold. The Ritzy and the Picture House are not likethat at all. The staff have really good film knowledge and are warm and personable."The multiplex giant, which runs 80 cinemas nationwide, stressed nothing wouldchange at Picturehouse under the new ownership. It pledged to run Picturehouse as aseparate entity, with all 750 staff staying on. But Cineworlds financial clout willenable the indie chain, Britains biggest independent, to open 10 cinemas from 2014.The news coincided with the opening of Picturehouses 21st cinema, The Dukes at theKomedia cabaret venue in Brighton.The deal includes the distribution arm Picturehouse Entertainment, which launched in2010 with the £200,000 grossing My Afternoons With Margueritte and the bittersweetcomedy Liberal Arts, which was released recently.The UK cinema market is now dominated by three players – Odeon & UCI, Vue andCineworld – which control 70% between them. Private equity-owned Vue bought arival, Apollo, for £20m in May while the financier Guy Hands bought Odeon and UCIin 2004 and merged them to create Britains biggest operator. Picturehouse had salesof £30.3m last year and a pretax profit of £2.5m. Bowcock believes the acquisitionwill create value for Cineworld shareholders. "Its profitable, there is demand for it.The population is getting older and people are spending more money on leisure time."Cineworld, which employs 4,000 people, has raised £16m by issuing new shares tofund the deal, and Goleby has put £1m of her money into the share placing. Cityanalysts said the move made sense for Cineworld. Investec analyst Steve Liechti said:"This looks an interesting move into the high value, older demographic,individual/arthouse cinema market and adds a new growth segment. We believeCineworld can add material value to Picturehouse given its balance sheet strength andbuying power."Q2. How significant do you think this consolidation of the exhibition marketinto 3 big players will be to audiences? What will it allow exhibitors to do? 114
  10. 10. Cinema Exhibitors – How do they make money?Ticket sales are only one aspect of a cinemas revenues. In 2001, ticket salescontributed about 66% of total revenues, with concessions income and pre-filmadvertising accounting for around 16% each. On average, cinemas generate £1 ofconcessions income and £1 of advertising revenue for every person who buys a ticket.These figures are averaged across the multiplex chains and independent cinemas - inpractice, the multiplexes tend to make more from sales of popcorn and drinks than theindependents - between them, the top three chains sell some 16 million buckets ofpopcorn a year.Over the past twenty years cinema going in the UK has experienced something of arenaissance. Attendances have increased from just fifty million a year to nearly onehundred and eighty million. Experts are divided about the reasons why this shouldhave happened. Is it that there are better quality films around that people want to see?Is it that there are now more comfortable cinemas for people to visit?Up until the mid 1980s cinemas in many countries, particularly the UK, Italy andGermany had received very little in the way of investment and because of this manycinemas deteriorated. Whereas once a trip to the cinema meant a visit to somewherethat was more comfortable than home, the state of British cinemas in the early 1980smeant that people were visiting run down, uncomfortable places.In the 1970s large, single screen cinemas had been cheaply converted into three orfour screen cinemas. This would often mean that the audience in one screen couldhear what was happening in the film on the screen next door. This detracted from theenjoyment of the film and consequently caused a drop in audience attendance at thecinema.With audience attendance levels declining box-office takings waned. The Hollywooddistributors found themselves particularly affected by this. As a result of this decline,the major US studios realised that they would have to revitalise and invest in theEuropean exhibition industry (it’s worth 60% of the overall international market) iftheir own production industry was to survive.Exhibitors also begun to realise that as well as selling films to audiences, they alsohave to sell their own cinemas as the best place to go and see these films.It was the major American studios, such as Universal, Warner Bros. and Paramountwho were the main investors in the development of multiplexes around the world.Through detailed research they came to the conclusion that many countries did nothave enough screens to cater for the audience that they were trying to develop. In themid 1980s they also realised that the state of many cinemas in countries such as theUK was so bad that people would not want to visit them. Thus, through the buildingof multiplexes, companies hoped to encourage many more cinema goers into theircinemas and stimulate interest and excitement. 115
  11. 11. Distributor and Exhibitor RelationshipsThe distributor and exhibitor share the risk of marketing films. Generally, thedistributor bears more of the risk if a film performs badly, but they normally also gainmore from the upside if a film does well. The distributor will make more money froma film doing well in a single cinema than if the revenues are split between a number ofsites. They will, therefore, try to restrict the number of prints available to maximisetheir income from each site.How Exhibitor/Distributor Deals Work…briefly!There are three different types of deal that an exhibitor might enter into with adistributor:i) The House Nut - The House Nut is a figure calculated to represent the costs ofrunning the cinema. In a house nut deal, the rental paid to the distributor will be either25% of the gross Box Office or 90% of the Box Office minus the house nut (what itcost to run the cinema) – whichever is greater. This is the deal structure generallyfavoured by the majors.ii) Scale - Under this arrangement, the amount payable to the distributor risesaccording to the amount that Box Office exceeds a pre-set break figure, which is oftencapped at 50%. Exhibitors will often offer guaranteed minimum payments and theparties may agree special terms to cover overages if the film performs particularlywell. This structure is often used by independent distributors.iii) Percentage - Finally, the parties might agree a straight percentage split of the BoxOffice. This type of deal is becoming increasingly common in the UK, being used forexpected blockbusters.Key Issues in Cinema Exhibition – it’s as simple as abc a. 3D cinemaModern digital 3D is fundamentally different from the 3D cinema audiences haveseen in the past. Of the 2,714 high-end digital screens in the UK in 2011, 1,475 (54%) were 3D-capable digital screens. Some of the popular 3D screenings in 2011 included Arthur Christmas, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On StrangerTides and two documentaries, TT3D: Closer to the Edge and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. BFI Handbook 20123D films have existed in some form since 1915, but had been largely relegated to aniche in the motion picture industry because of the costly hardware and processesrequired to produce and display a 3D film, and the lack of a standardized format forthe business. Nonetheless, 3D films were prominently featured in the 1950s in UScinema, and later experienced fleeting popularity at various points during the 1960s,1970s and 1980s. 116
  12. 12. What makes modern digital 3D different from its previous incarnations is first of allthe technology. Digital technology allows the right eye/left eye images which createthe stereoscopic effect to be matched perfectly in every frame. Previously even slightimperfections in this process, inevitable in the hand-matching that was necessarywith 35mm 3D, meant that the brain had to work harder to make sense of the twoimages, leading quickly to tiredness and even nausea on the part of the viewer.Second, it is probably not unfair to say that the creative people behind earlier 3D filmswere at best journeymen within the industry. Modern digital 3D has attracted theforemost creative talents of our age - James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, PeterJackson, Martin Scorsese amongst them.Finally, previous interest in 3D was generally prompted by a cinema sectorexperiencing pressures and urgently looking to find new ways to attract audiences tothe big screen experience. While there is no room for complacency, the currentcinema sector is comparatively buoyant - the drivers of 3D are as much creative asthey are economic.It is recognised that 3D is not right for every film, but where it is fully embraced bythe Director and done well, it can offer a truly fantastic experience. A key tippingpoint for 3D cinema was with the release in 2009 of James Camerons Avatar, thehighest grossing film of all time, earning almost $2.8 billion worldwide.3D technology of course costs money for both the film maker and the cinema to offerthe experience. This is generally reflected in an uplift on ticket prices for 3D filmswhich enables the industry to continue making more 3D films and bringing them toUK and global audiences. In terms of market share, in 2011, 47 films were released in3D, taking circa £231.5 million at the box office, circa 22 per cent of the total annualUK box office for 2011.At the end of September 2012, the UK cinema sector had 3,368 digital screens(around 88 per cent of the total UK screen base) with 1550 of these screens beingcapable of offering 3D. b. Digital cinemaThe advent of digital cinema offers the opportunity to enhance the cinema-goingexperience in terms of picture quality, more diverse programming and in offeringaudiences the chance to experience cutting-edge digital 3D. The transition to digitalcinema in the UK is now approaching completion. At the end of June 2012, therewere 3,216 digital screens - around 84 per cent of the UK screen base - of which some1,535 were 3D-enabled. While the benefits to the cinema-goer will becomeincreasingly apparent, it remains the case that the key financial benefits from thesedevelopments accrue to the distributor.Distribution of films is currently via 35mm celluloid prints, which are expensive toproduce and to transport. Digital technology offers the opportunity for the distributorto produce and ‘transport’ copies around the country (via the internet or satellite) at asignificant cost saving. Against that, while as systems develop these are likely thecome down to a degree, the costs for many cinema exhibitors of converting their 117
  13. 13. cinema will remain prohibitively expensive. The CEA therefore strongly believes thatit is the studios and distributors, rather than the exhibitors, who should meet the bulkof the costs for this transition.In the US and Europe, various third party organizations have proposed financing andinstallation plans to exhibitors, backed by agreements with the studios. Under theseplans, the third parties raise the necessary finance to buy and install digital equipmentin cinemas, with the studios over time paying "virtual print fees" (VPFs) to the thirdparties for the use of the equipment.From the outset of the transition, the CEA (Cinema Exhibitors Association) was keento ensure that as many of its members as possible were able to make the transition todigital, should they so wish, without experiencing financial hardship. As a result theAssociation The Association therefore supported the establishment of the DigitalFunding Partnership (UK) [DFP(UK)] a grouping of small and medium-sizedoperators brought together to negotiate the best possible funding deal to supportdigital conversion. c. DVD release windowThe ‘theatrical window’ is the number of days between a film’s official theatricalrelease and its release on DVD/video rental. Over the last 10 years, the size of thewindow in the UK has fallen significantly, from around from 27 weeks in May 1999to an average of 17 weeks at the current time. Changes to the release window are amatter for negotiation between the studio and exhibitor concerned. But in general theCEA would be concerned about any changes which might have a negative impact onthe UK cinema industryCinema is not the music industry, where existing business models are widely seen asbroken. UK cinema admissions have been steadily rising for the last 25 years. Manycinemas have invested huge amounts of their own money in improving the cinema-going experience, most recently through digital 3D. Without a clear window betweena films theatrical release and its release on other platforms, such as DVD, thatinvestment is at risk.Significant changes to the release window could cause a marked reduction in cinemaadmissions, particularly for those smaller operators who can only play a film severalweeks after it is released. Hundreds of cinemas up and down the country would be putat risk by any significant reduction in admissions. The impact of this would be lostjobs and businesses. But more importantly still, it would result in less film choice andless opportunities for the public to see movies where they were intended to be seen –the cinema." 118
  14. 14. Types of Cinema in the UK In the UK, there are three main types of cinema exhibition environments: 1. Multiplex A North American concept, the first UK cinema opening in Milton Keynes in 1985 owned by the American Multi- Cinema Corporation (AMC). The UK cinema market continues to be dominated by three major exhibitors; Odeon UCI, Cineworld and Vue. In total they account for over 70% of the total market box office and provide over 60% of the total screens in the UK. The rest ofthe market is represented by smaller multiplex chains and independents which tend tooperate non-multiplex cinemas (less than five screens).This situation has remained largely constant because of the significant barriers toentry, both through acquisition and organically. The rate of new cinema openings hasbeen falling in recent years, partly due to the limited number of new retail and leisuredevelopment opportunities and the long time it takes to bring developments tofruition. This has been exacerbated more recently due to reduced funding fordevelopers in the present financial climate, though confidence has started to improve.Cinema attendance is quite resilient in the economic and consumer environment. Thelow price of going to the cinema compared to other forms of leisure and the desire forescapism have remained key attractions. Underpinning the overall success in the lastfew years has been the strong line-up of films, the ongoing conversion to digital andthe growth in the number of films released in 3D format:Q3. Find out more about Vue, Odeon and Cineworld cinemas – who ownsthem?The multiplex cinema is a new building situated on the edge of a large conurbation orcity and houses between eight to fifteen screens. The US distributors determined thatcinemas should be located close to large shopping centres, restaurants and otherleisure pursuits (bowling, ice-skating rinks etc.) to attract as wide a potential audienceas possible. Easy access and parking for cars, an opportunity to combine a cinemavisit with a shopping spree and a meal out has changed the concept of cinema goingand seems to have been fundamental to the success of the multiplex. It has turnedcinema going, literally, into a family centred activity.The number of screens can range from 12-15, and in some cases up to 25, such as StarCity in Birmingham. However, this `megaplex, which boasted shops, restaurants, atattoo bar and screens that were to be dedicated to art house and Bollywood fare, has 119
  15. 15. proved to be problematic. While there is a greater representation of Asian cinema thanusual for a multiplex, reflecting the local demographic, the commitment to art housecinema appears to have fallen victim to the Hollywood juggernaught. Multiplexesclaim to offer a wide range of choice, but in reality, across the country they will allplay the same 8-10 core titles.Q4. Although audience choice was a central part of the success of the multiplexwhat actually have multiplexes allowed exhibitors to do?Summary of UK cinema admissions and the number of screens in operation1985-2002 Admissions Total Number Number of Multiplex (million) (1) of screens (2) Screens (3) 1985 72 1,251 10 1995 124 1,969 683 2011 176 3,760 2,833Each screen of the multiplex has a different seating capacity so that the exhibitors cancater for very popular mainstream films with a large audience attendance alongsidelesser known art house or specialist films with a limited audience.These multiplexes have allowed a range of films to be shown, usually with differentstart times, and allowed customer choice to be central to the visit to a multiplex.Sophisticated sound and image technology has been installed into these multiplexcinemas which offers the audience a more exciting experience.2. Multi-Screen Cinema 120
  16. 16. Slightly different to the large, out-of-town multiplex - the multi-screen cinema is anupgrade of the old 1970s ‘flea-pits’. Not only were these old cinemas renovated, butthe old large single auditorium cinemas with an audience capacity of fifteen hundredpeople, were divided into three to eight screen cinemas. These became known asmulti-screen cinemas. The multi-screen cinemas echoed the multiplex notion ofoffering a choice of films in a modern, comfortable environment. However, theyattracted a different type of audience from the multiplex due to their city centrelocation. Very few can offer the large car parking facilities of the multiplex but mostare easily accessible by public transport and are convenient for those working orshopping in the city centre.3. The Subsidised Sector (Community Cinemas)A number of venues across the country, both full time and part time, are revenuefunded by grant in aid from various sources. Each venue and organisation has to hitcertain criteria before funding is given (business plans, strategies for education,marketing and artistic programming, financial forecasts, etc. are required). The venuesmay also get funding from local authorities, the National Lottery, sponsorship, Europeand also, of course, from the box office.Their programmers endeavour to put on the widest range of cinema possible,combining film screenings with a range of special events such as regional filmmakingforums, director/actor workshops, digital video work and mixed media events. Somevenues instigate their own festivals and touring programmes.4. Commercial Art HouseA number of commercial cinemas across the country now mix art house and multiplexprogramming, the most local being the Picturehouse (including the Ritzy), Curzon orEveryman chains.Q5. Find out more about these art-house chains? How are they different fromthe multiplexes? 121
  17. 17. The Future of Cinema Exhibition in the UKAt the moment, both distribution and exhibition sectors are going though a time ofmassive change. The Government set up the UK Film Council in 2000 to create asustainable UK film industry and there has been many changes in the funding systemwith various lottery schemes, new Regional Screen agencies being created and thedevelopment of regional Arts. More positively, as discussed earlier the UKFCsSpecialised Prints and Advertising Fund gave £1 million in 2003 to selecteddistributors who wanted to create more prints and more marketing for selected non-mainstream, specialised films, which in turn will hopefully increase audience access.With the BBFC now gone, will the BFI step up and continue their good work?Cinema is not just about films – Live Opera in the Cinema…Alternative content (AC) or non-feature film programming like live theatre and operahas become a regular feature over the past five years in the UK as more cinemasbecome equipped with digital screens. The availability of a digital screen base hasallowed a wider range of content on the big screen, allowed interactivity between thescreen and the audience and potentially improved the use of auditorium capacityduring typically quiet periods. Also, since alternative content events usually have onlyone or two screenings they tend to generate higher occupancy rates than feature films.In the last few years such events have ranged from live or recorded operas, ballets andpop music concerts to film screenings with live question and answer sessions and livesporting events. There were 109 alternative content events screened in UK cinemas in2011, more than double 2010’s 54 events, according to Screen Digest (Figure 10.4).As in earlier years, in 2011 with 43 events, opera was the most popular form ofalternative content, followed by ballet with 17 events. The Met Opera had previouslybeen the company with the most screenings of its performances but its successattracted other cultural institutions into the cinema. In 2011 these included theBolshoi, the ENO, La Scala, the Vienna State Opera and the Zurich Opera House.Popular music was also well represented with 13 events, which included recordedshows of live performances mixed with interviews and documentary, and also liveperformances. Of the 12 films shown, eight were documentaries and the othersincluded a live element where the film was followed by a question and answer sessionwith members of the cast or production teams.Community CinemaThe screening of feature films in the UK is not limited to cinemas belonging to themajor cinema operators. There is a thriving sector of voluntary providers which makea wide variety of films available to local communities which are often underserved bythe commercial operators. This sector is often referred to as community cinema.Members of local communities are generally more involved in the programming ofsuch cinemas than their commercial counterparts. Screenings of films in this sectorare in venues such as village halls, mixed arts spaces, independent cinemas and the 122
  18. 18. like.ConclusionThere are many forces that come together to shape the pattern of what ends up on UKscreens. Some of these arise from the practices of film distribution as a complexmonopoly that holds the balance of power over exhibitors whilst also marginalizingindependent distributors. At the same time, intense competition between cinemasmeans that most multiplexes prioritize the same titles, whilst ignoring others. Whereasthis has been found to maximize admissions, the policy has also had the detrimentaleffect to cinemas of raising their film hire costs. For film viewers, the most notableeffect of these economic pressures has been the failure of the escalating number ofcinema screens to significantly expand their viewing choices.The UK Film Council sought to breach the barriers faced by exhibitors anddistributors who wish to make available a wider range of quality filmmaking. In 2002it acquired a £17 million budget to promote niche product in the UK. Part of this wasmade available to distributors for the marketing of specialized films. Enhancingawareness of alternatives to the mainstream helps to increase its attractiveness tocinemas and the public alike. The bulk of the budget has been allocated to cinemasthemselves, in order to create a ‘virtual circuit’ of digital art house screens in bothmultiplexes and small independent sites around the country. In May 2005, the FilmCouncil named the 209 sites that would benefit from the installation of 238 digitalscreens, which would be devoted to ‘more specialised (i.e. non-Hollywood), classic,and foreign language movies. This process is currently well underway and is due forcompletion in 2006.The adoption of digital projection reduces the cost to distributors of striking andshipping film prints. This makes viable the provision of specialized product to a largernumber of cinemas. This will be a boon to the art houses that already rely on suchfilms but who often find it difficult to obtain them on or close to the release date whenpublic awareness and demand is generally at its highest. At the same time, theobligation of participating multiplexes to play specialized product will increase itsgeographical provision outside the metropolitan areas in which most existing arthouses are located.Publicly funded government intervention, administered by the UK Film Council orthe BFI may indeed prove to be the only way of sustaining the availability of nicheproduct to audiences across the UK. There is great optimism that the emergence ofhigh-specification digital projection will make a tangible difference in the near future.In the meantime, though, the dominance of film exhibition by multiplex chains showsevery sign of engendering an increasingly homogenized experience of cinema goingfor most audiences.Q6. What are the BFI doing to help promote niche films to UKaudiences? 123
  19. 19. Q7. Exhibitors are the route to customers. All film makers thinkcarefully about how their production decisions affect the exhibitionsector. What do you look for in a cinema?Q8. Exhibitors are increasingly involved in promoting independentfilms locally - where personal appearances by cast and crew cangenerate good press. How might this affect the production of lowbudget British films?Q9. The exhibition sector in the UK has grown rapidly but now is aperiod of some consolidation. The advent of digital technology israising some interesting issues for the relationships betweenproducer, director and exhibitor. What do you think might happenin the future?Q10. Do you think independent cinemas will survive in the future?Write a paragraph on each. 124
  20. 20. Q7. Exhibitors are the route to customers. All film makers thinkcarefully about how their production decisions affect the exhibitionsector. What do you look for in a cinema?Q8. Exhibitors are increasingly involved in promoting independentfilms locally - where personal appearances by cast and crew cangenerate good press. How might this affect the production of lowbudget British films?Q9. The exhibition sector in the UK has grown rapidly but now is aperiod of some consolidation. The advent of digital technology israising some interesting issues for the relationships betweenproducer, director and exhibitor. What do you think might happenin the future?Q10. Do you think independent cinemas will survive in the future?Write a paragraph on each. 124