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Tag: Streaming

Editorials

How Cinema Attendance Hit Record Levels In 2018

February 7, 2019

In a world of streaming and affordable home media, the death of cinema distribution is often talked about. A belief that many would agree with. After all, why go to the cinema when you can watch a film multiple times at home for a fraction of what they would pay going to see those films at the theatre?

It’s therefore interesting that according to the UK Cinema Association, UK cinema attendance in 2018 was at its highest since 1970, with 177 million admissions. This is impressive considering all the factors going against cinema in 2018, including a boiling summer and competition from the World Cup.

UK Cinema Admissions (UK Cinema Association)

But why did cinema attendance decline during the 1970s? And what was it about this past year that encouraged people to return in larger numbers? Well, join me as we dive down the rabbit hole and try to find out.

1970: Starting to decline

1970 was the year the UK saw the general release of many perennial favourites, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Kes and many others. It was also the year when cinema audiences began to decline dramatically in numbers, going from 193 million admissions in 1970 to 176 million in 1971. By the end of 1980 admissions only reached 110 million.

Many blame the expansion of television and the video recorder for the decline. And with Hollywood going through major changes at the time due to several large flops, the big crowd-pleasing spectacles that had been largely used to showcase its superiority to home viewing quickly dropped off. These pictures then took a back seat in the UK, replaced by a mix of personal and experimental projects that appealed to niche audiences as well as television adaptations and sex comedies. From there although attendance was not always in continual decline, and tentpole blockbusters returned, the audience figures never reached the numbers they once had – until 2018!

In 2018 attendance numbers rose with huge hits like Bohemian Rhapsody, Mamma Mia Here we go again, Avengers: Infinity War and Black Panther.

The biggest UK film hits in 2018

2018: What has changed?

There are of course many factors that could have contributed to the rise in cinema attendance. Some insiders put it down to the value of the cinema experience. Going to the cinema is not just about the film anymore, it’s about the communal experience. The ability to buy food, drink, alcohol and enjoy a film with your family and friends on a large screen with luxury seating without having to spend as much as you would for a night at the opera or a football match.

The number of venues dedicated to showing films across the UK is also growing, in different geographical areas. This means that it is easier for audiences to get to cinemas, no doubt helping to encourage repeat visits.

On the other hand, the rise could be a result of Hollywood using their old hits formulas with a new approach. The big hits of 1970, M*A*S*H, Love Story and Airport all had pre-existing fanbases, all being based on novels (some specially written to drum up interest for the movie) and stars with name recognition. Airport having Burt Lancaster and Dean Martin, M*A*S*H having Donald Sutherland and Love Story having Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal. Hollywood often used these tactics in the past, but these films also covered a range of genres: disaster, romance, war/comedy and demonstrated an attempt to appeal to different tastes. Airport focused on Hollywood spectacle, Love Story on personal character drama and M*A*S*H on anti-establishment humour rampant at the time. Helping to attract different audiences.

All these elements can be seen in the big hits of 2018. The genres range from musical to superhero and biopic. And all demonstrate a commitment to bringing in broad audiences through either brand recognition or having a big name attached to the project.

But these films also tackle modern issues that help them appeal to different audiences. Instead of focusing exclusively on white straight men we now have stories about black superheroes, LGBTQ icons and women exploring their sexuality and coming to terms with their own identities. With a lot of money spent on these projects, it must be an attractive prospect for underrepresented groups to see representation on the big screen. All the aforementioned films are also rated 12a. And with cinemas being more easily accessible it makes it easier for every member of the family to watch these diverse tales. The issues of today are being told with old school Hollywood spectacle, which seems to have struck a chord with people, regardless of your opinions on the films.

A long way to go

But despite rising attendance figures, these must be viewed within context. Comparing the populations of the times the average person in 1970 would have visited the cinema around 3.5 times a year. In comparison the higher population the average person will only visit the cinema around 2.7 times a year. Which makes a difference when considering box office takings


UK population estimates and projections, 1951 to 2041 (Office for National Statistics )

With the average ticket price in the 1970s being £6.83 (45p, adjusted for inflation) the total box office takings of 1970 reached £1,318,190,000. Beating 2018’s takings of £1,277,122,327 despite the higher average ticket price and higher number of cinemas.

The average viewer just does not visit the cinema enough to equal the 1970 numbers. So, if cinema is to return to the high attendances it once had, there is still a long way to go. And with the predicted continuing increase of the population, cinemas will need to do all they can to encourage visitors to return or attendance will continue to fall. This could result in cinema closures or another rise in the average ticket price.

What now?

Despite this, the high attendance figures of the past few years indicate that if cinemas continue to appeal to audiences, through showcasing big films that can be viewed by diverse audiences at affordable prices, then maybe we will reach the attendance figures of cinemas heyday again.

Editorials

Five Movies To Watch Right Now On BBC iPlayer

January 30, 2019
I, Daniel Blake

In the age of streaming, where two heavyweight services in the form of Netflix and Amazon Prime seem to dominate the platform, it’s easy to forget about the other services that can be used to watch and enjoy films on, such as BBC iPlayer. Though there is a limited time to watch these films, iPlayer provides a wide variety of films to suit all tastes, from documentaries, to biopics, to horror. Below is a taste of films iPlayer has to offer, at the time of writing.

Man on the Moon (1999) – Available for five months

Jim Carrey (Man on the Moon)

A biopic of Andy Kaufman, the Saturday Night Live star, possibly shouldn’t have a history as interesting as the film itself. Starring Jim Carrey, Man on the Moon depicts the life of the Taxi star, from his struggle to “make it” as it were, to his sitcom hating days, to his wrestling career, to the end of his remarkable but short life. In perhaps a bitter twist, after playing tricks on his audience throughout the film, Andy realises in a desperate attempt to save his life, that he too has had the wool pulled over his eyes; and in that moment, he just laughs. It’s a hauntingly tragic performance by Carrey, who threw his all into the role (which is explored in a documentary entitled “Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond”) and it’s one that brings a tear to the eye.

The Eyes of Orson Welles (2018) – Available for thirteen days

Orson Welles (The Eyes of Orson Welles)

Often regarded as one of the most important, or even the best, director of all time, Orson Welles left behind a mysterious legacy and this documentary aims to give you further insight into how Welles’ mind worked. Mark Cousins takes the viewer on a visual journey, showcasing the sketches and artwork Welles’ drew during his time – sketches of the people and places he found vividly intriguing. It’s an entirely new way to view his films and Cousins seems to have nothing but admiration for him. Though it seems to add more to the secrecy of Welles, it also begs to question of where his inspiration came from and of how he viewed his own conscience. Cousins documentary reads like a love-letter to the director creating an awe-inspiring film, for any fan.

Night of the Living Dead (1968) – Available for over a year

Night of the living Dead
Zombies (Night of the Living Dead)

In what is often seen as a pivotal film for horror and zombie culture alike, George A. Romero’s classic film follows an unlikely group of allies as they attempt to survive the undead uprising together. It’s an iconic horror, one that has since gone on to inspire many other zombie films, including Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead. Though filmed in 1968, it has remained as gruesome as ever; one scene depicts a failed escape attempt by the group, resulting in two charred bodies being eaten by the undead. The ending of hope for one lucky survivor is also snatched away at the last minute, leaving the audience feeling as hopeless as those trying to survive. It’s a must watch for horror, zombie and classic film fans alike.

I, Daniel Blake (2016) – Available for five days.

I, Daniel Blake

A gritty tale of how politics can affect the ‘little guy’, I, Daniel Blake follows its protagonist as he tries to appeal the decision that he is fit for work, after being told by medical specialists he is not. He forms an unlikely friendship with a single mother, helping her to survive on the bare minimum, and attempts to save her from a certain path of desperation, even though she sees no other way to feed her children. The Ken Loach film looks deep into how certain decisions from those in charge, can change us and turn protestors into us all. In one particular scene, after being told he must look harder for work or risk being sanctioned, Blake spray paints “I, Daniel Blake, demand my appeal date before I starve”. It’s a poignant film and one of Loach’s best.

Manchester by the Sea (2016) – Available for twelve days

Manchester by the sea
Manchester by the Sea

Casey Affleck gives his best performance to date in Manchester by the Sea, as he plays a troubled handyman by the name of Lee who, after losing his brother, has to try to navigate his way through his grief and the subsequent responsibility of looking after his nephew, Patrick.  The film is often fraught with despair; no matter the choices Lee makes, it never seems to be the right one, and though he wants to be there for his nephew, he also seems to realise that the best thing he can possibly do for Patrick is to not be in his life at all. However, despite all this, the film manages to maintain an air of possibilities – the possibility that Lee and Patrick can keep their new found relationship positive, the possibility that Lee can face his demons and, more importantly, the possibility that Lee can defeat his demons. A tragically beautiful film that will stay with you.

Watch all these films & more on BBC iPlayer.