UK cinema admissions increased by 15 per cent to 132 million in 1996, according to analyst Dodona Research.
The figure was boosted by National Cinema Day, which celebrated 100 years of cinema with a national 1 admission fee. The cinema industry is now understood to be planning to make Cinema Day an annual event.
Dodona predicts that admissions could reach 180 million a year if the industry continues its programme of opening multiplex screens. Over the next three years, a further 600 multiplex screens are planned – in addition to the existing 900. There are 1,350 traditional town-centre screens in the UK – which accounted for 60 million admissions in 1996.
The cinema industry is expected to start channelling more funds into marketing as it completes its multiplex construction programme and seeks to ensure the new complexes are filled. Growing competition between new complexes will also increase the need for marketing, says Dodona.
The leading cinema chain is former MGM, now relaunched under the ABC or Virgin banners. It took 31 million admissions, worth about 95m at the box office. The second largest chain is UCI, which took 72m from 22 million admissions.