It appears that cinema have been making hay while the sun didn’t shine. Most British newspapers and websites seem to agree that it is primarily the weather rather than the quality of the films on offer, that made 2007 a strong box office summer. Take this article from The Guardian (‘Wet summer boosts UK film industry‘) which notes that:
The British cinema industry is celebrating its best summer in 40 years, partly thanks to the wet weather.
Figures released this morning by the Film Distributors’ Association, the trade body for the industry, showed that there were 50.8m cinema visits during June, July and August.
This is over 25% more than in a typical summer, and even beat records set in the 1980s when the arrival of multiplex cinemas gave the sector a boost.
The impulse is to start polemicizing that ‘the death of cinema at the hands of DVD/YouTube/games/etc is greatly exaggerated’. Just don’t expect anyone to point out that the threat from on-line piracy is obviously also exaggerated, or why else would Brits splash their way to the cinemas instead of staying home in front of their warm PCs. It is worth adding that there was also no Olympics of World Cup to steal viewers away.
However, if these leads to complacency or anything more than modest celebrating then British cinemas are in trouble. Taking comfort from poor weather and people’s willingness from sitting through underwhelming threequels (‘Bourne Ultimatum‘ excepted) does not a stable business future make. Smart cinemas use the extra money to expand beyond their core business (blockbusters, concessions and advertising). One major UK chain’s CEO told me that he no longer sends his staff to cinema trade shows like Cinema Expo. ‘The new idea are in gambling, nightclub and bar conventions,’ he said. While films will remain the bread and butter of the cinema business, don’t count on lashings of rains to make people seek refuge in their local multiplex. (Rain picture courtesy of Ahmed Rabea).