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Cinema audiences struggles as moviegoers turn to online content

Cinema audiences struggles as moviegoers turn to online content
July 31, 2018

The rise of online streaming and the domination of a small number of blockbuster movies is having a major impact on the established cinema-based model for motion picture distribution.

Speaking in Adelaide at the 2018 Screen Makers Conference (SMC), Screen Australia Chief Executive Graeme Mason advised that among 700 cinema releases, the top 20 films took 93% of the box office in Australia last year.

Mason advised “so the other 680 releases were all fighting over 7%.

"All independent cinema, whether it's American studio indie or a British film, is struggling for that attention."

Mason explained that while horror films and children's films were still attractive to people wishing to share the experience with others in a cinema, as were comic book franchises such as Thor and The Avengers, the old ‘holy grail’ of making movies for the 18 to 24-year-old demographic was all but finished.

Mason stated “they are not coming to the movies ... there's always going to be exceptions, which is the great thing about our business, but do your research."

Instead, streaming services like Netflix, Stan and the ABC's iview were continuing to gather momentum, as were YouTube and social media stars.

Mason has a long and extensive background in filmmaking and acquisition and worked on films such as Trainspotting and Shallow Grave, which he admitted he "wouldn't make for cinema today ... I'd make them for Netflix".

He advised that filmmakers could no longer rely on festivals and word of mouth to give their projects wings, adding “an OK drama film is no longer good enough. It has to be great (otherwise) I will stay home and watch something on Netflix.

"The choices of what you can watch and when and how has gone astronomically out of control."

Mason went on to advise “there are double the amount of films getting released now than there were six years ago ... but at the same moment the cinema audience is shrinking.”

Looking to the future he stated “will I bet a house on the existing big Hollywood film and TV studios all being here in 10 years? Absolutely not.

"Do I think that Amazon, Google and Facebook etcetera will in some way shape or form replace them? Absolutely.

"Opportunity for everybody is in these new platforms."

Mason said while feature films were "hands down the most difficult thing to do at the moment", they were still important.

Screen Australia is the peak federal funding body and last financial year invested nearly $70 million into new film, television and online content.

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