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The world of cinema is changing – and we don’t just mean the sheer quantity of Hollywood blockbusters which are being brought to the screen every season; promising the newest instalment of an ongoing fantasy, and reintroducing characters that have periodically appeared on our screens over the years. What we mean is that the industry around cinema itself is shifting – both in the way that consumers experience the big screen and all that comes with it, and in the way that filmmakers are selecting, taking on, and presenting new projects.
Going to the cinema has long been considered a leisure experience which bordered on “treating yourself” territory, giving consumers access to films which are brand new and which are therefore likely to offer heightened and intensified experiences; including more immersive viewing and soundscapes, storylines which introduce new ideologies and concepts, and entire cinema experiences which are considered more luxurious and high end. The industry is now served by a series of different companies and brands, all of which offer differing levels in terms of their quality and pricing structure, and yet which all advertise and showcase the same newly released films. What then forms the main part of each cinema’s marketing campaign, and how does any cinema brand entice consumers to go back to them time and time again every time there is a new film on release that they wish to see?
One of the major things that all cinema industry brands must focus on is location and the proximity of each of their venues to popular city centres and residential areas. The cinema is a treat and a leisure experience which is often planned in advance, yet it still follows that consumers will automatically go to the cinema venue which is closest to them in proximity and which is renowned for offering a high end experience in terms of the seat quality and provision of food and drinks. After all, the movie is the same no matter where you see it – meaning that the main crux of the cinema venue industry in fact lies in its ability to meet consumer demand and provide an experience that the consumer will view as positive.
To combat this, cinema brands are doing a variety of different things to appeal to their target demographic and ensure that every area of the market is served with a high quality experience regardless of age and lifestyle. For many, the provision of off-peak tickets for over 50’s viewers and children means that popular films can be enjoyed for lower prices at a time when demand is not so high. Not only does this reduce the cost for those demographic groups and entice them to visit the cinema at a time of day when cinema screens may otherwise be near empty, but it also means that those outside of these target groups who choose to visit the cinema during the peak hours are able to enjoy the film without the distraction of children and younger viewers in particular.
The very first example of moving images designed for entertainment and leisure purposes was produced in the form of a Kinetoscope – a device created in 1891 which allowed one person at a time to view moving pictures and string them together to form some kind of story. By 1894 the device became a commercial success which was installed across public spaces around the world – growing in line with demand and creating a platform for the Lumiere Brothers to project the first set of moving pictures to a paying audience in 1895 using their own device formed of the camera, a projector and a film printer.
Meanwhile, with regards to the creation of the films which were to be presented on these early cinema devices, history tells us that the very first examples of commercial films were very short – lasting only a few minutes at most – and would often be silent, accompanied by live lectures and live music. In line with the creation of films and cinematography, the cinema industry is also largely responsible for the rise in starlets and stars who found fame in the world of movies; developing and forging entire careers for those who found themselves catapulted into the world of on screen characterisation and performance.
By 1914 the cinema and film industry was highly developed across Europe and Russia, with the USA falling behind while European filmmakers continued to make movies which were longer in length and which told increasingly more of a story.
And so the rise and evolution of the cinema industry itself, plus everything that went with it, was largely a result of increased demand and the vast developments which were made and which crucially allowed cinema to be regarded as something worth paying for. Today, consumers are constantly looking for ways to make savings and to tie various cinematic experiences together under deal and voucher headlines – however, in the earliest days, the development of storytelling and the demand for cinema as a leisure activity was such that deals weren’t necessary; instead consumers were happy to pay for something that they regarded as a luxury and a novelty experience.
To look at the top brands in the cinema industry, it is important to note and take into account both the filmmaking companies which are responsible for bringing films to life, and the cinema companies which provide the venue fit for screening and providing that film to the mass market. The most successful and well-known brands in the filmmaking sphere are those which either serve a very specific target audience and produce a very specialist style of film, and those which widen their repertoire and put their name on the widest possible array of movies in the hope of creating marketing opportunities for their brand and company across all manner of different cinema sectors. A good example of this in practice is the Walt Disney Company, which is one of the most successful cinema franchises and which has in recent years expanded its repertoire outside of the classic Disney animated movie to include and embrace more hard hitting movies and even documentaries. What this does is not only expand the audience level of the Disney Company’s productions, but it also lends a hugely successful production name to those new movies and cinematic showcases which are looking to enter the market with the highest possible level of marketing.
Some of the other big filmmaking franchise brands and companies which are responsible for the movies brought to cinemas include:
To look at the other side of the cinema industry – the presentation of the finished film in the perfect venue – we move on to the big names and companies which operate the most successful cinema franchises in the world; with trends and modern developments changing the way that these companies are interacting with and appealing to their target audience, through the luxury added to the movie watching, and the innovative features which make a cinema company stand out. A good example of this is the Everyman Cinema franchise which has expanded quickly across the UK, creating a new kind of cinema experience where consumers are invited to settle into sofas rather than structured rows of seating, and where food and full meals can be ordered to the sofa directly through cinema assistants. Another example is the rise in four dimensional cinematic experiences, which not only offer immersive visuals and soundscapes, but also use the enhanced level of 3D viewing and also create experiences which bring the movie to life in action and reaction – such as splashing water at the audience who are watching the main character lean over the front bow of a boat.
The top companies and brand names in the cinema venue industry include:
One of the biggest trends which is impacting the popularity and demand for the cinema industry, and which is forcing cinemas to rethink the way that they market to and attract target audiences, is the rise in at-home cinema products; from surround sound speaker systems to complete cinematic televisions and projectors which are now available on the mass market and in new home build designs. This lends itself to the increase in demand for luxury in the home and takes the popular idea of a cinematic experience but inputs it into a comfortable home environment – outweighing the draw of a physical cinema experience. Of course, there are ways that cinemas can overcome and challenge these kinds of obstacles – a key example being that at-home cinemas still don’t have access to releases in the same time frame as formal cinema spaces. However, the rise in new movie release TV packages and at-home rentals means that the at-home experience is not far behind. Another way that cinemas and the cinema industry can overcome this is by presenting consumers with deals and discounts which are attractive and enticing to those consumers – for example those over 50’s and children’s off-peak tickets which drive daytime demand, and other benefits such as Orange Wednesday’s which has long been one of the perks of mobile provider Orange – offering 2-for-1 cinema tickets to all its own customers every Wednesday.
Another major trend which affects the cinema industry and has to do with the filmmaking process in the background, is the vast resurgence in remakes rather than original movies. If you were to look at the new releases in any cinema at any given time, the likelihood is that at least one or two of the movies on offer will be remakes, sequels or prequels to existing concepts and storylines. This is not so much due to a lack of ideas and original concepts – but leans more on the fact that if the consumer recognises the story and characters, they are more likely to go and see the film, even if it does turn out to be bad. To the cinema industry, this review doesn’t really matter – as long as the consumer pays to see the film, then the profit has been made and the ticket has been sold. Recently, some of the major examples of this include the remake of several traditional stories like Rebecca and Sherlock Holmes, and the resurgence of stories such as Star Wars which keeps finding itself subjected to more prequels and spin-offs as the movie industry seeks to expand on and capitalise on the popularity of the franchise as a whole.
What makes consumers decide to see a film in the first place? Well, if it isn’t a character that they recognise or a story that they know and are curious to see adapted for the big screen, much of the demand must be created through the power of trailers and previews – with modern cinematic trailers no longer simply showing a minute or two of action, but instead inviting consumers to enjoy a two minute snapshot of all the twists and dramatic instances that the movie will provide. Trailers play a big part in the popularity of the cinema industry, and are a big drive in driving a consistent stream of consumers through the doors of cinemas again and again as they see trailers for movies they want to see, and decide to go back to take them in.
And for those who want to enjoy an existing movie or simply take in an old favourite, the final trend in the cinema industry is the rise in outdoor cinemas and drive-in movie experiences which present consumers with a new way of enjoying classic films from the comfort of their own space. These are often held and hosted at popular outdoor venues and country estates, giving consumers a memorable experience which allows them to access the cinema industry in a new way – and it is this kind of innovation, alongside the increase in deals and discounts for different consumer groups and demographics, which should serve to keep up a consistent demand for the cinema industry even with the rise in at-home cinematic products.
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