A survey conducted by the Independent Cinema Office (ICO) in the United Kingdom during September 2023 shed light on the precarious financial situation facing the country’s theatrical exhibition sector in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey collected responses from 157 independent cinemas, small chains, and mixed arts venues, offering a glimpse into the current challenges within the industry such as changes in operating models, shifts in audience behavior, reduced availability of public funding and competition from online streaming services.
The survey findings reveal that a significant portion of venues, approximately 45%, are forecasting operating at a loss for the current financial year. Only 10% of the surveyed venues expressed high confidence in their financial positions, underscoring the widespread uncertainty and vulnerability in the sector. A concerning 42% of respondents indicated that they might not be able to sustain their operations if the current situation persists for another year.
According to the survey, 61% of respondents are falling short of their income targets for the financial year, with an average deficit of 10%. Additionally, 76% anticipate a loss in admissions compared to pre-pandemic years, with a 25% reduction in admission figures across UK cinemas in 2023.