Sample Book Chapters

Chapter 9 - Exhibition (Theaters)

Chapter summaries in this section of the website are distilled from 139,000 words in the book.

   The U.S. movie industry depends on movie theaters (also called cinemas)—the equivalent of brick-and-mortar retail stores for other consumer-oriented businesses—to sell its products. Movie theaters promote Hollywood product and complete sales transactions directly with consumers. No other movie platform captures the collective experience of a group huddled in a darkened auditorium sharing the laughs, the tears, and the wide-screen spectacle of cinema.
   The United States and Canada have very active moviegoers by world standards. In the United States, each person averaged 3.9 movie-theater admissions in 2011. In comparison, Europe musters around 2.3 per capita movie attendance. In much of Asia Pacific and Latin America, the per capita figures are even lower.
  Theaters have the task of enforcing age restrictions for the voluntary film classification system, which maintains their standing as good corporate citizens and defuses any attempts by government to step in with draconian child-protection laws to do the same. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is the federal agency regulating business, gave U.S. cinemas a passing grade in turning away underage moviegoers for R-rated films, which requires anyone under age seventeen must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. “Theaters denied 72% of underage shoppers admission to R-rated movies, a statistically significant improvement from 2006,” says a 2009 FTC report monitoring marketing of violent content to children. The FTC sent underage “secret shoppers” to theaters to test enforcement.
   A modern, top-grossing U.S. theater chain averaged over $3 in food and beverage sales per admission in 2011 compared to roughly $8 for an admission ticket. T he national average is a bit lower.
  Movie theaters are becoming more aggressive in selling national advertising to nonfilm companies, a trend that Hollywood distributors fret could ultimately cut into film-marketing efforts inside theaters. On-screen and lobby advertising amounted to a $644 million business for U.S. theaters during 2011, according to the Cinema Advertising Council. The two big screen advertising outfits are National CineMedia (NCM) and Screenvision. Though in-theater advertising is fast growing, it is still hundreds of millions of dollars less than in Europe.

 Text copyright © 2018, Robert Marich. All rights reserved.

Used here with permission from SIU Press

Table 9.3. Top exhibitors in North America by screens, 2011-12
1 Regal Entertainment1 U.S. 6,580
2 AMC Entertainment U.S.    5,034
3 Cinemark Cinemas U.S.      3,832
4 Carmike Cinemas U.S.        2,277
5 Cineplex Galaxy Canada     1,338
Source: IHS Screen Digest