It’s no secret that Netflix is currently one of the world’s biggest and most popular streaming devices, and yet despite the major on-going success of big name newly releases including the likes of Black Panther, Bohemian Rhapsody and the U.S. musical production called Hamilton, it’s relatively safe to assume that the stage and big screen industries are currently thriving. But at what cost? One of the major differences we’ve seen slowly highlight itself since the rise in popularity of streaming is the noticeable hit Cinema’s have taken. One of the more notable difference between the two platforms, which co-exist thanks to streaming platforms taking over, can be found within the price and accessibility, because as cinema ticket costs fall, West End prices are rising. There are a variety of reasons behind the differences of affordability, but just how wide is the price gap between cinema and the West End?
According to the BBC, the difference is actually shockingly significant in the big scheme of things, as last year it was revealed that the average price of cinema tickets in the UK was sitting at just £7.22, whilst a West End theatre ticket would’ve set you back around £49.25. These figures revealed a drop in expense for movie fans compared to 2017, when cinema tickets in the UK averaged £7.49. In contrast, West End costs have surged since 2017, as tickets usually sold for around £46.71 that particular year.
However, the “new” heftier theatre costs we’ve been seeing aren’t necessarily something we haven’t seen before. Surprisingly, cost figures from the industry in the past show that prices have actually gone up by 30 percent since 2012. Why? Well, supposedly, it is thought that the reason for the added expense is due to the popularity surrounding productions such as Wicked, and the immensely popular Hamilton, whilst the cheaper cinema costs have been described as “tactical discounting” by the UK Cinema Association to help battle the demand.
Although, in spite of these differences, the figures from both the cinema and theatre industries show that attendance has risen dramatically, with a massive 117 million movie tickets and 34 million theatre tickets being purchased last year alone. The lower cinema costs have indeed had a positive effect on box office sales, and last year ten movies earned more than £30 million in the UK, compared to six the previous year. In 2018, the biggest cinematic success stories were seen with the releases of Avengers: Infinity War, Incredibles 2, Black Panther, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and the Oscar-nominated Bohemian Rhapsody.
Tom Grater, who’s the Screen International’s senior reporter previously talked about the topic, discussing the varying reasons behind the increasingly cheaper cinema tickets. According to BBC, he stated “They have rapidly expanded in the last few years, so traditional exhibitors like Odeon and Cineworld have to figure out how to deal with that competition because in towns where previously there might have only been one multiplex, there might also be a swanky new indie cinema as well.”
Grater also then touched on the harsh and technologically-advanced reality of cinema chains having to compete with streaming powerhouses including Netflix, Stan and Hulu. He continued, “But I think the key concern is more them competing against things like Netflix and the fact you can get really quality entertainment at home these days, so they need to slightly reshape their models.”
He also then went on to say, “Increasingly, people seem to want to invest in high quality cultural experiences, and the West End is benefiting from this trend.” And went on to add that the rise in the average ticket price was “largely driven by a small number of hugely popular hit shows.”