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Why aren’t people going to the cinema anymore?

In the cinema boom of the 1940s and 1950s, admissions in the UK were regularly over one billion a year; however, after rising significantly from the mid-1980s, cinema figures have remained fairly stagnant since 2002. There are a number of reasons why fewer people visit the cinema today and here we look at four of the contributing factors.

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The cost

Taking the whole family to the cinema is not cheap, particularly if you add in extras such as 3D and IMAX films. This can mean that visiting the cinema is saved for special occasions. You also need to think about the inflated prices at the concession outlets, which can be considerably higher than you would pay in retail outlets. Some cinemas are even providing more exclusive experiences to try to make it more than just an average film night, with additions such as sofas, alcoholic drinks and dinner.

Choice of films

We can generally see a correlation between the number of cinema admissions in a year and the choice of films that were released; in years with a higher number of blockbusters, the admissions also increased. 2002, for example, saw a peak in UK cinema visits with 175 million – this was also the year of Spider Man; Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones; The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In 2014, this dropped to 157 million, when the only two really big films were The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 and Guardians of the Galaxy. Other releases did not perform as well as expected.

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High-quality programmes

In the past, TV programmes were not always of the highest quality; however, producers are now putting more resources into these and maintaining higher viewing figures. This means that consumers are deciding to invest more in their at-home provision, such as high-spec televisions and using companies to ensure they get a good and reliable signal.


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At-home streaming services can offer better value for money than one trip to the cinema and provide the option to watch the latest films, often not that far behind the cinema release. Viewers can also choose subscription-based services that provide original programmes, which often have cult followings.

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