Cinemas in Australia’s major film hubs have become increasingly crowded, with fewer seats available in cinemas than they did 10 years ago.
In Sydney and Melbourne, the number of cinemas has declined from 2,600 in 2008 to 1,300 in 2015, according to data from the Australian Industry Group.
The number of cinema seats in regional cities has fallen from 10,000 in 2008, to 7,000 last year.
The decline has occurred at the expense of smaller cinemas in smaller towns and suburbs.
The data shows that in Sydney and Brisbane, there were only 7,500 seats available at the end of 2016, down from 12,500 in 2008.
For regional cities like Brisbane, the decline in the number and size of cinemis is likely due to the region’s population growth, as the region is projected to increase by about 30,000 people by 2040.
Despite these demographic changes, the biggest impact of the closure of smaller cinema theatres in regional Sydney and the Queensland cities of Townsville and Ballarat, was on smaller films.
The Australian Industry Groups (AIG) said in a statement that these closures have left small cinemas with “significant financial constraints”.
The AIG said the closure “is a reflection of the changing roles of small cinemases in Australia and the wider industry”.
“It is clear that small cinemassets are facing pressures from a rapidly ageing population and an ageing population is one of the biggest challenges for smaller cinemassettes,” the AIG statement said.
“In the last decade, the industry has been hit by a combination of factors, including: the ageing population; the impact of technological changes such as digital distribution, which has reduced the number available to theatres; and the changing role of small cinema theatrics in the Australian economy.”
The regional industry group has launched a new national consultation to discuss what is needed to ensure cinemas remain open, in light of the film industry’s closure.
While there are no immediate plans to close smaller cinemasses in regional Australia, the Aig is calling on industry bodies to “actively engage” with the industry to ensure the future of cinemassages in the region.
A number of smaller film distributors have already opened cinemas and are expected to be in full operation in the coming months.
According to the AICG, the closure has not been caused by any new industry competition, but by a decline in demand from the domestic film market, which is being fuelled by the popularity of smaller films such as films from Netflix, Amazon and Vudu.