Event Cinema 2020 Review – UK and Ireland

Event Cinema Box Office 2020

Event cinema box office for 2020 was down -77 per cent on 2019 taking £12.1 million of a total £322.9m box office for the UK and Ireland. It accounted for 3.8 per cent of total box office, the second highest annual market share for event cinema to date.

Pre-covid (January – March), the year started strong event cinema was up 33 per cent on 2019, with Andre Rieu 70 Years Young taking over £2m in January and indeed became the highest grossing title of 2020. Of the top ten titles for the year, eight were release between January and March, the top ten accounts for 68 per cent of the total event cinema box office.

Only 60 titles were released in 2020 compared to 130 in 2019 and 42 per cent of new releases were in Q1 of 2020. Concerts became the highest grossing genre for 2020 accounting for 28% of total box office. Theatre moved from its 2019 top spot to second accounting for 26% of total box office.

September was certainly the standout month for 2020, with over 700 cinema sites open, event cinema finally exceeded the £1m mark for the first time since, following months of closures across the country. Market share for event cinema account for 5.7 per cent and the increased programming of content saw the highest market share for independent cinemas.

Event Cinema Audience Segmentation 2020

As presented back in March 2020 at the UKCA Conference for 2019 data, Movio have looked back at the event cinema audiences for 2020. The insights certainly demonstrate that event cinema helped to drive attendance and bring new audiences to the cinema post-pandemic. The uplift in programming and market share of independent cinemas indicate that these products have helped to fill the void of major movie releases for people who were seeking content and the big screen experience. In 2020, Event Cinema release brought back a higher proportion of frequent moviegoers than mainstream films. 

We know from historical data that event cinema skews to an older audience, with the make-up being largely female and over 45 years of age. When looking more closely at the top three titles of 2019 – Andre Rieu 70 Years Young, Kinky Boots the Musical and NT Live Cyrano De Bergerac – which were released pre-pandemic, we saw this trend continue.

Female audiences make over 65 per cent of all attendees. Andre Rieu and NT Live Cyrano De Bergerac both attracts audiences in the older age categories, with 80 per cent and 68 per cent 45 and older respectively. Kinky Boots the Musical however, was able to attract a wide range of ages, with 45 per cent being under the age of 45 years.

As with most event cinema content, we typically see a higher number of group bookings for events, that said NT Live Cyrano De Bergerac had a significant number of individual purchases for that event. That said, National Theatre attendees are frequent cinemagoers.  Andre Rieu attracts infrequent cinema goers with 60% of attendees only going to once or twice for the year. Given the popularity of this content, there is an opportunity to encourage these attendees to come back and watch something else.

Of attendees to the top three event cinema titles in 2020:

  • 23 per cent were new to cinema.
  • 72 per cent crossover with film – regular cinemagoers.
  • Only 5 per cent were exclusive to event cinema content

Interestingly the two titles of the top ten that were released in during the pandemic – Break the Silence: The Movie and David Attenborough: A life on our Planet – brought in a higher number of younger audiences to the cinema.

  • Break the Silence: The Movie 90 per cent of attendees were female but 75 per cent of the total number of attendees were under 25 years of age.
  • David Attenborough: A life on our Planet  24 per cent were under 25 years of age and 27 per cent between 25-34 years of age.

What is notable in relation to audience spend is that events that attract an older audience certainly have a higher spend on F&B, with National Theatre audiences paying considerably more per admission than any others. Spend at concerts titles – regardless of age – have a significantly lower spend per admission. Understandably those audiences attending BTS title will have less disposable income but spend at Andre Rieu per admission was still significantly low. Given the dwell time in cinemas for event cinema titles, there is certainly opportunity to maximise and uplift spend with tailored packages for the audiences.

Separate analysis was undertaken to show the breakdown of audiences returning to cinema for event cinema programming post-Covid and whether they were:

  • Entirely new audiences for event cinema
  • People returning for event cinema who exclusively attended Event Cinema productions previously
  • People returning for event cinema who have attended for film & event cinema productions previously

The data again shows the significance of the crossover of audiences to film and event cinema content. But also the growth of new audiences that came to the cinema from when cinemas reopen in July, particularly for concert, other and theatre content. We can certainly link the new audiences for concerts and other to the data we have seen for – Break the Silence: The Movie and David Attenborough: A life on our Planet.

There are opportunities to work more collaboratively as an industry to convert the new and infrequent event cinema attendees to return but also to understand that frequent event cinema attendees are more broadly, avid cinemagoers who enjoy all content – films and events.

The full Movio presentation available to members upon request.