Cinema's ten-year bounce-back

More screens and better product are pulling back the thirtysomethings

Peter Howard-Williams

The UK cinema medium's long slide hit the basement in 1984, its audiences nearly wiped out by TV, tacky and vanishing theatres and some pretty bad movies. Since then it's been all bounce-back, largely thanks to the new multiplexes and better product. The audience is bigger but continues to be usefully young, slightly up-market and skewed to light TV viewers. This article is a comprehensive review of the medium's admission trends, major operators, audience profiles and other research tools, current advertisers and billings. It also notes the medium's advertising characteristics, for instance high ad recall.

In 1984 it seemed apparent to just about everyone that the progressive slide in cinema admissions had become, to all intents and purposes, a terminal dive. Audiences barely averaged one million admissions per week. At its 1946 peak, UK cinemas had attracted 1.635 billion admissions a year, through 4,703 screens. By 1972, the impact of TV had reduced these figures to 163 million and 1,531 respectively, and the final 1984 low was 54 million and 1,246 screens.