Cinema Is Dying (Thanks To Streaming, Apparently)

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Star Wars: the Last Jedi raked in over US$220m in its first weekend alone - but it's not enough to keep cinema alive. The premiere weekend was easily the highest grossing of 2017, but industry analysts say this year was still 3.9 per cent lower than last year, and this trend will only continue.

What's to blame? Streaming, duh. And maybe the enormous ticket prices at the cinemas but hey - you gotta have a scapegoat for these things, right?

Pocketbook did some research into the effect the streaming industry has on the cinemas - particularly over the traditionally strong post-Christmas period.

After analysing the anonymised spending habits of more than 200,000 Pocketbook users, as a percentage of population, it showed Netflix and other streaming services are drastically overtaking cinemas in terms of people who transact in December. And it doesn't looks this trend will change any time soon.

"As the graph shows, streaming (red) is on an impressive trajectory from 2014 to 2017 while cinema (blue) is largely flat-lining when comparing December patronage across the three years," Pocketbook said.

Steaming vs Cinema

Looking at the past three silly seasons, streaming increased from 2.77 per cent of the population in December 2014, to 17.79 per cent in December 2015, to 26.4 per cent in December 2016.

"Based on these projections and growth in streaming services between January and June this year, just over half of the population (50.18 per cent) will tune into streaming services over the Christmas break," Pocketbook predicts.

When compared to the year-on-year growth witnessed in streaming, Pocketbook says cinema patronage is "sputtering along".

In December 2014, 8.48 per cent of the population went to the cinemas, 11.79 per cent did so in December 2015, while 11.93 per cent visited the big screen in December 2016. Based on these figures, and the data available for the first half of 2017, Pocketbook reckons 12.99 per cent of Australians will visit the cinemas this December.

While Netflix and Stan both started officially in Australia in 2015, Netflix was already popular via proxy servers with 200,000 Australians already subscribing before the local launch. In 2014, it was Australia's second most popular paid content media company - before it was even available.

Adding to cinema's competition in December, it seems Netflix and Stan have adopted the Summer blockbuster cinema model for original content.

Netflix is releasing the second series of The Crown, and Stan is reassuring those on a stay-cation with a new series of outback terror series Wolf Creek. Stan is also releasing its much-anticipated spin off series, Romper Stomper, which originally starred Russell Crowe, as a New Year's Day hangover cure.

"Will Luke Skywalker's return challenge our findings and bring streamers back from the dark side?" Pocketbook wonders.

"Probably not, but Stranger Things have happened."

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    Hm, I'm not convinced that Streaming is the main reason cinema is dying.

    I think the main reason is cinema simply refused to adapt.

      I'm not sure you can say cinema is dying when you look at that graph. It's flat (slightly improving). If it was genuinely dying the line would be trending down. I think it's more of an indication that the market is already saturated. ie: everyone who would go to the movies already is. Which isn't surprising since cinema has been around a long time.

      If anything I suspect streaming is cannibalizing more of the free to air and pay TV markets. Since they're a closer parallel service wise.

    Nah. What's the blame is the unrealistic income expectation of people that play make-believe for a living. They get paid more than the people that do the actual work and the studios have to cough up they extremely unequal pay to appease people who think they should be paid millions and millions for six months of work.

      Yes, labour costs (and unions) are the problem. If only everybody would work for less than the minimum wage then everything would be affordable.

        Let's twist xeitxgeist's words into something he didn't say.

          As long as they keep demanding (some command a price in the tens of millions) more and more money for their appearances, ticket and concession prices will continue to rise, and rise, and rise, and rise. The studios and investors have to make an ROI (unless they're doing it for dodgy tax reasons), and are expected to turn a profit too.

          Is acting a lot of work? Yes, it very much looks that way, pulling 12-16 hour days on set, sometimes for a single shot. But what about the guy who spends 12-16 hour days in a dimly lit studio room processing and rendering petabytes (that's the one that comes after terabytes, right?) of VFX for <$100k? Sometimes less? It's an extremely, extremely unequal industry and the 'stars' are what consistently drive up prices as they demand more and more, because they need a third Hamptons holiday house or a copy of fucking Superman #1.

          The actual workers wages are based on an industry standard/negotiation that rise and fall with inflation (as they should), whereas the "stars" simply demand happily-ever-after sums of money and no one bats an eye.

          Last edited 28/12/17 12:30 pm

          The claim is that actors are grossly overpaid despite the fact that their very presence in a movie can help it earn hundreds of millions of dollars - just extend the logic to all employees and you to will see what xeitxgeist really wants.

          FAMOUS actors are paid high wages because they earn them. Not through their acting but their names create free marketing and put bums on seats. There are 100,000 unfamous actors who could play these roles for 10th cost but studios don't choose them because big names sell big movies.

      I've had this argument with my Dad. If you're a large part of earning a tremendous amount of money for the studio shouldn't you be entitled to a decent slice of it? Genuine stars demand higher salaries because they are the reason people go to see a movie, not the director, or the story or any of the other people who work on it.

      It's an interesting problem, I think the best way to solve a salary issue would be to work on profit. So the actor gets a base wage that's quite low and earns more based on the amount of money the movie makes (should also apply to everyone who works on it). However, that falls apart because the studios use creative accounting to claim movies never make profits.

        I do understand the point, but without the rest of the team working on the film, there would be no film at all. It wouldn't exist without them. It's why I have so much admiration for people like Keanu Reeves that actually give a shit.

        Last edited 29/12/17 3:18 pm

    Cinema is dying because the costs of watching movies in Australia at cinemas are borderline stupid. $22 for the movie alone, and even looking at the prices of popcorn and drinks at the candy bar is eye-watering...

    A family of 4 going for a movie will easily be out of pocket $100 for a single session.

      This. And it's partly just an Aussie thing.
      And sneaking your own food in is always at the risk of getting kicked out.
      When I was in the US and parts of Asia it was crazily cheaper, and it's not all likely to be labour costs.
      Streaming? I thought it was piracy that was killing cinema?

        1972 - Philips released the VCR - headlines through the 80s and 90s - VCR is the Death of Cinema.
        1995 - Philips and Sony release the DVD player - headlines through the 90s and 00s - DVD is the Death of Cinema.
        2006 - Samsung release the first Blu-ray player - headlines through the 00s and 10s - Blu-ray is the Death of Cinema.

        Now Streaming (and piracy, and Ultra HD) is the Death of Cinema. Except cinema has been "dying" for more than 40 years and is still there. It's a lot more resilient than people realise.

          If anything is the death of Cinema, its the publishers like Disney that are asking for a larger share of the box office from the Cinema chains.

          Disney raised their wholesale prices in Australia last year, and this year they rose in the United States... so Cinema chains either had to raise prices or absorb the cost, either way effecting the industry as a whole.

            But Disney buying a share of Fox and becoming even more of a behemoth isn't going to be a problem...

            (not aimed at you btw, just the stupidity of the industry)

        It is the Australia Tax. I went to see movies while I was in Singapore and Malaysia. It's something I like to do. Adult tickets ranged from $6 to $11 Australian each. None of this $19+ rubbish in Australia. And cinemas in Australia operate without enough staff. Often there is no one to check for your ticket, no one around at all. So you can just walk right in.

        Always take my own food and drink and never even try to hide it. Never been stopped or questioned. Haven't heard of anyone been kicked out for it.

      It is possible to get in cheaper than that. Currently with the Cinebuzz card movies at Greater Union cinemas cost $8 (only reason I got one). Unfortunately the coke and popcorn costs as much as a small house. So if you're willing to forego the junk food sold by the cinema (sneak in your own) then it's not quite that bad.

      Also, depending on the cinema they don't care if you bring in your own food and drink. The one at Strathpine is pretty relaxed about it.

    The great thing about streaming compared to going to the cinema is being able to stay at home, watch the movie on a fairly decent tv with decent surround sound as you can get good surround sound systems and 4K tv's at low prices these days. You don't have to worry about annoying cinema people or the food or the comfort level and can even pause the movie to go to the toilet. There's also the cost as can get pricey going to the movies when you add in the ticket, food and if you bring the family can be a expensive trip.

    Great thing about going to the cinema is seeing the movie on a huge screen with bigger speakers. Seeing Star Wars on the big screen with the big sound just doesn't compare to seeing it at home, which is why i go to the cinema's for the big hit movies. My local cinema has just done a million dollar renovation, new seats, extra screens, new lobby, so that has helped as well.

    Depending on where you live there's also a plus to the cinema. You got your local cinema, upmarket cinema that offers better seating such as reclining seats, food by push of a button that comes to you. Then you got the next level which is IMAX, even bigger screen that's higher in quality, even better surround sound and comfy chairs. Love IMAX.

    Like many things that get phased out by technology, going to the cinema's might become a past time but i hope not as it still has it merits.

    Last edited 28/12/17 10:40 am

      Thats the same reasons I go to movies. Sometimes it's just better to see them with a big crowd. Having a 100 other people laughing or gasping or shrieking at the same time just adds to the experience. But only for certain movies.

      A reasonable projector and a sound system costs about 700-1000 all up, incl fitting it out with brackets, chromecasts etc. Especially if you are not interested in TV, it makes for great cinema to watch at convenience. Breaks, food, drinks... All easy. And quite often we invite ppl over. Chuck in huge bean bags and you almost never go back to the cinema.
      Everytime we visit one, hassles start from parking to the prices at the bar (and that their staff can't successfully pour a pint of beer....) and the ridiculously exxy snacks and then dramas with parking gates not liking the movie ticket etc... The experience feels cheap. Compared to a gourmet pizza cooked while we watch something at home, take loo breaks without missing bits.

      I guess the only proper positive of going to the cinema is that everybody turns their phones off. ;)

        You won me with the projector, pint of beer and gourmet pizza :)

    Reporting on a self-selection survey of a small, unrepresentative number of consumers and then presenting it as though it is fact. Cool.

    the graph shows that cinema numbers are increasing, when has that been a sign of something dying?

    Blaming it on streaming is short-sighted. This is a phenomenon similar to the steady demise of anything that can be superceded. It's just the march of technology.

    Once, getting a message to another country depended on the telegraph. It was slow and cumbersome, and when better technologies (i.e. radio and the telephone) came along the inevitable happened. I'm sure at the time, those with a financial interest moaned about the end of days. But we moved on and things are better. No one would suggest it's better to return to the days of STOP.

    Cinemas are facing a similar future. Streaming isn't the cause, it's just the more advanced technology. Rather than cry into their beer, studios would be better off seizing the opportunity and allowing us to stream new release movies direct to our living rooms. I recall reading about this some months ago (including on this site) ... did that ever eventuate to anything?

    Too much action, too many effects and not enough story, in my opinion, is the reason it’s dying.

      A good movie starts with a good story or script.

      It is amazing just how much money can be spent on actors and special effects but using a lousy script/plot!

    So high prices and low quality infrastructure have nothing to do with it?

    Headline: Cinema is dying
    Text: Cinema is sputtering along


    Oh also y'all should move to Campbelltown, in Syd. $5.50 movie tickets at the local :D

    Maybe high cinema ticket prices, long 15-30 minute advertisements, meets flat wage growth, longer working hours and consumer prices increasing year in year out are all putting the squeeze on, and taking the shine off cinema.... Just saying.
    IMO The movie industry should be lobbying government hard to raise wages and reduce working hours...

    i would like to go more often to the cinema, i like the experience of loosing yourself. And i can usually find a cheap ticket at 12 dollars or less which i feel is ok.
    BUT...Allocated seating!
    i absolutely loathe allocated seating and what it stands for to the point that i just don't want to deal with it.
    don't charge me extra to buy the ticket online when you have just saved money by not employing a person. let me work out where i want to sit spontaneously when i walk in there and asses the situation based on the other patrons
    and for jilly's sake you don't need to ask where i want to sit (i will work itout when i get in there) when the cinema is less than 50% full.
    That is what puts me off the most about going to the cinema.

    I love going to the movies but price definitely stops me. Once u get tickets and food it's gets up there. If it was fairer prices I'd go a few times a month not a few times a year.

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