The lack of small and medium sized films is hurting cinemas, suggests the boss of the Vue cinema chain.
On the surface at least, 2023 has been a decent year for cinema admissions, with in particular the double bill of Oppenheimer and Barbie leading to multiplex foyers being heaving come the end of July. The problem? In September they were all bit empty again, and the CEO of the Vue chain, Tim Richards, has admitted that’s something of a problem.
Talking at the British Screen Forum Conference that took place in London last week, Richards admitted that the problem facing his business was a “lack of small and medium-sized films”, and that shortage was “hurting admissions”.
Furthermore, he’s not optimistic about the 12 months ahead, either.
Admitting that Vue’s balance sheet has taken a battering as a result of the 2020 pandemic – and like most chains, it’s been a struggle to get that back – he’s far more optimistic about the 2025 slate of movies than those currently planned for 2024. Assorted strike actions have delayed many big movies that were originally set for next year, and while there are a few blockbusters standing, the release schedule still looks quite light at the moment.
As such, Richard told the conference last week that he was expecting 2024 to be “worse”, and “potentially even significantly worse than this year.”
Not exactly the cheeriest reading, though there are still highpoints for 2024. Dune Part II for a start looks really rather special, and that’s going to be leading what could and should be a competitive March.
It’s hard to argue with Richards’ point about the mix of movies, though. The non-blockbusters have never really had the credit they deserve for playing their part in modern cinema, and they’ve been the first to be squeezed out when a large film needs extra screen space. Perhaps that needs to change, for small and medium sized movies to believe they have a sporting chance of getting enough screenings.
A bumpy 12 months may lie ahead then. Fingers crossed that Richards’ predictions don’t quite pan out…