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In the archive
Cinema industry trends

This page is no longer updated by Screen Australia. For information about ongoing data see Other data sources > Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Overview of the film exhibition industry, 1996/97–1999/00

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) conducted Service Industry Surveys of the film exhibition industry in 1979/80, 1986/87, 1993/94, 1996/97 and 1999/00. Some of the key data from these surveys, published in Motion Picture Exhibition Australia (cat. no. 8654.0), is presented here. No updates are available as no further ABS survey of the industry has been undertaken.

Size of the industry: There were 173 businesses in the motion picture exhibition industry at the end of June 2000, 9 per cent fewer than at the end of June 1997.

The reduction was mainly in small businesses (those with income of less than $1 million), where the number has fallen from 162 at the end of June 1994 and 126 at the end of June 1997 to 99 at the end of June 2000. The biggest reduction was in those businesses with income of less than $100,000, which have decreased from 33 at June 1997 to 13 at June 2000.

Businesses in the film exhibition industry generated $1,046 million in income in 1999/00, of which $679 million (65 per cent of income) was derived from gross box office receipts. Gross income in 1996/97 was $832 million, with $552 million (66 per cent) from box office receipts.

Business size: At the end of June 2000, there were eight businesses with incomes of $8 million or more – the same number as at the end of June 1997. These businesses dominated the industry, accounting for 68 per cent of employment, 70 per cent of screens, 80 per cent of gross income, 74 per cent of paid admissions and 86 per cent of industry operating profit before tax.

(In 1996/97, the eight businesses with incomes greater than $8 million accounted for 65 per cent of screens and 78 per cent of gross income, with the other proportions relatively unchanged.)

Among the eight largest businesses the average labour cost per employee was $17,000 compared with $16,000 for the rest of the exhibition industry. Film hire/rental per paid admission was also higher for these businesses, $3.40 compared to $2.90 of the rest of the industry.

There were 99 businesses (57 per cent of the total) with incomes of less than $1 million, 27 fewer than in 1996/97. These accounted for 9 per cent of industry employment, contributed 4 per cent of total industry income and 2 per cent of industry operating profit before tax.

(In 1996/97 the 126 businesses with income of less than $1 million accounted for 12 per cent of industry employment, 6 per cent of total industry income and 3 per cent of industry operating profit before tax.)

Sites and screens: The 173 businesses in the industry operated 326 cinema sites and 17 drive-in sites. Whilst the number of cinema sites has remained virtually unchanged since June 1994, the number of drive-in sites has fallen from 41 sites at the end of June 1994 and 28 sites at the end of June 1997.

The number of cinema screens and the number of available cinema seats have increased by 44 per cent and 16 per cent respectively since June 1997. Since June 1994, the average number of cinema screens per site has doubled from 2.3 to 4.6 at June 2000. The emergence of multiplex and megaplex cinemas has affected this overall average, with multiplex and megaplex sites having an average of 6.9 screens at the end of June 2000.

No. paid admissions: In 1999/00 there were 79.4 million paid cinema admissions to cinemas – 8 per cent more than in 1996/97.

Based on the Australian estimated residential population at June 2000, the number of paid admissions represented 4.1 visits per person during 1999/00 compared to 4.0 visits per person in 1996/97.

Profitability: The industry recorded an operating profit before tax of $113 million for the 1999/00 financial year, down 6 per cent on 1996/97. This operating profit represented an operating profit margin of 11.4 per cent compared with 14.9 per cent in 1996/97.

The eight largest businesses contributed significantly to the industry’s profitability, with the operating profit before tax of these businesses being $97 million (86 per cent of the industry total) and representing an operating profit margin of 12.2 per cent, above the industry average of 11.4 per cent. In 1996/97 the operating profit margin of these eight businesses was 16.2 per cent.

Employment: There were 9,282 people employed in the motion picture exhibition industry at end of June 2000, an increase of 20 per cent since June 1997. Casual and part-time employees accounted for 81 per cent of total employment (7,492 people), permanent full-time employees for 13 per cent (1,196 people), permanent part-time employees for 6 per cent (534 people) and working proprietors and partners less than 1 per cent (60 people).

Women accounted for 56 per cent (5,162) of those employed in the industry at the end of June 2000 – the same proportion as at June 1997. 84 per cent of women worked on a casual basis, compared to 77 per cent of men.

The concentration of casual employees was higher in the eight largest businesses, with 84 per cent of employees working on a casual basis compared to 60 per cent for businesses with income of less than $100,000.