2013: A watershed year for cinema?

As the 35mm film becomes a thing of the past, Peter Seabrook-Harris, regional sales director at Pearl & Dean, looks at what 2013 has in store for cinema

Peering into a crystal ball is never easy and, with numerous 2013 marketing plans no doubt already full of the usual guarded clichés about a “lack of visibility”, “and challenging markets” etc, it would indeed take a brave (or very fortunate) soul indeed to be overly optimistic right now in the current economic climate.

Well for cinema the task is happily a little easier as we’ve just notched up a record year for UK box office receipts (breaking the £1bn figure for the very first time ever) as a powerful combination of Skyfall, Twilight, The Hobbit and The Life of PI sign the year off in quite some style. And all this despite initial concerns about the likely impact of the various sporting events earlier this summer.

Cinema has enjoyed remarkably consistent admissions throughout the recession and it does seem that people are striving to maintain their cinema going habits regardless of the downturn in the economy – and let’s face it cinema does offer a wonderful opportunity to escape Robert Peston’s relentless doom mongering and disconnect briefly from the real world.

2013 marks a watershed year for cinema as 35mm film, that last bastion of analogue entertainment, all but gives way to the digital rollercoaster which will see old school film projectors sadly becoming a mere novelty and in many cases dormant museum pieces.

Digital has dramatically increased the exhibition window with not just more films being released than ever before but movies like Skyfall hitting more screens than ever before too as, unlike 35mm film, you can now add extra screens at the mere flick of a switch – or a mouse to be more accurate.

With digital projection, many of the old rules are fast disappearing and that also means that traditional barriers too are being torn down. And this means new rules for advertisers too.

Digital now offers dramatically lower entry costs for advertisers plus faster and more flexible access too which suddenly makes cinema irresistible to a number of new advertisers being attracted to the big screen for the very first time, such as the retail sector.

Digitally driven 3D has been a key part of this success story with 5 of the 2012 top ten releases being in 2D /3D and underlines the growing popularity of the format – with Marvel Avengers Assemble alone scooping £52m.

Cinema traditionally attracts a strong 15-34 young adult profile as its mainstream audience and that’s where the bulk of our advertisers can be found.

But it’s not all about the big blockbusters as the arthouse sector too has been equally strong and of course attracts an older, more upmarket audience and of course more of our more niche advertisers.

Alternative content is another area where cinema exhibitors can realistically hope to leverage incremental audiences and this marks quite a departure for the industry. No longer reliant on chiefly Hollywood for their weekly programming, the doors are now wide open for all manner of filmed entertainment and live events – from Rugby to Opera to Comedy.

Advertisers now have a growing opportunity to tap into a number of highly targeted audiences and enjoy a level of impact and ROI unmatched by virtually any other media. Recent Research by OMD’s Brand Science team concludes that, for those brands targeting younger adults, total media effect is strongest only where cinema is included in the media mix to deliver optimal RROI (*Revenue Return On Investment)

Or to quote one of cinema’s biggest advertisers Orange (now EE of course), the future is indeed bright.

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