From SMEs to nationals: How UK cinemas share revenue

18 June 2015 Matt Owen

The movies are big business. Last year alone, the cinema industry in the UK turned over £2.92bn, and the wider film sector reported £41bn (The budget from Star Wars obviously having a positive effect), but with so many of our high streets dominated by big names like Odeon, Vue and Cineworld, it’s easy to forget just how diverse the sector is.

Grab some popcorn and let’s take a look at the figures.

UK Cinema chains by turnover

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First of all, let’s break that revenue figure down a bit. While it’s true that chains dominate, there are still a number of independent cinemas doing well.

Of our original £2.92bn figure, here’s how the chains perform:

  • Cineworld: £406.1m
  • Curzon: £6.4m
  • Empire: £1.8m
  • Everyman: £11.5m
  • Merlin: £5m
  • Movie House: £9.7m
  • Odeon: £175.3m
  • Picturehouse: £12.9m
  • Reel: £9.2m
  • Regal: £4.4k
  • Scott: £504.9k
  • Showcase: £598.3k
  • Vue: £101m

Note: Vue did not report its turnover directly, however a quick glance at DueDil’s group chart allows us to identify their corporate structure and work our way up until we find the numbers we need. In this case Vue Entertainment Holdings, which reported a £101m turnover.

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While there’s a vast difference between Regal and Cineworld, there are plenty of smaller theatres doing well.

Combined, the major chains reported £740,007,600, just over a quarter (25.34%) of turnover.

A strong independent marketplace

Almost 75% of turnover is generated outside the remit of the multiplexes.

This isn’t as surprising as it may seem. Despite it’s relative ubiquity Cineworld operates in just 83 locations (with expansion plans for another eleven) across the UK and Ireland, as well as the Picturehouse chain which it purchased in 2012.

However, DueDil lists more than 2,000 cinemas in the UK alone.

When filtered by employee count, we can see that 23% of cinemas employ less than 10 people, while just 3.8% report more than 5,000 staff.

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SME outlook

For smaller operations, fortunes appear mixed. While Saffron Walden’s community cinema increased turnover by 16.66% to a respectable £296.3k in the last reported period, and London’s famous Rio managed £688.5k, Cannock’s Electric Palace saw an increase in liabilities of almost 1000%. This actually only amounts to a little over £25k, but for such a small business these figures are hugely important.

These figures are probably due as much to population levels as any other economic factor, so despite limited returns it is heartening to know that even in rural communities, the cinema remains a popular pastime.

If we map companies according to SIC code 5941 and 9213 (Motion Picture Projection Activities) then we can clearly see that while there is a cluster in London and the south east, there is an even spread of theatres across the nation.

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Incidentally, if we filter to only include businesses with turnover in excess of £1m, we can deduce that outside major cities, Sudbury and Workington have some very enthusiastic cineastes.

A small but diverse and independently minded industry, the UK ‘s cinemas are overall in good health, with a diversification in recent years bought on by demand for more film showings outside of mainstream Hollywood releases.

While multiscreen facilities drive the largest turnover, they do so by providing several options in larger conurbations, leaving room for a large SME sector, including both rural and arthouse theatres serving a more specific need.

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