How our major cinema chains are bouncing back thanks to this one loyal group of movie-goers

Thanks to hard-to-reach youths, young families, and females, cinema admission numbers in this demographic rose by two per cent on last year.

Thanks to hard-to-reach youths, young families, and females, cinema admission numbers in this demographic rose by two per cent on last year. Photo: AAP

In the early months of 2022, it was “high-value premium consumers” who flocked back to the cinema for their three hours of big-screen entertainment.

Cashed up NEOs – or New Economic Order consumers, as Roy Morgan liked to classify them. Recession-busters.

Over the summer just gone, it was kids, teenagers and families who collectively bought almost 10 million tickets to see family-friendly movies and romcoms, increasing box office numbers from last year.

“Cinema demonstrated its youthfulness,” says leading cinema advertiser, Val Morgan.

Wonka, Anyone But You, Migration, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and breakout success Mean Girls, with a total of 48 per cent of total admissions falling within the 14 to 39-year-old demographic, up by two per cent from last year.

“Cinema proved to be the preferred choice for hard-to-reach youths, young families, and female audiences over the school holidays with almost 9.8 million Australians immersing themselves in the biggest cultural moments of the summer,” according to the latest Val Morgan data released on February 7.

Their cinema boss, Guy Burbidge, says the numbers “were shaped by powerful titles centred around strong female characters”.

“Amongst a very diverse slate, we’ve witnessed a predominantly female-led summer at the cinema, driven by compelling narratives that highlight and celebrate the strength of female characters,” he says.

“This builds upon the positive momentum initiated by powerhouse hit, Barbie, and this is only set to continue in 2024.”

The long-anticipated Wonka prequel proved a hit. Photo: Warner Bros.

Thankyou, Willy Wonka

National cinema advertiser Val Morgan says “the star of the season” was Wonka, which drove the most admissions across the holidays.

Since its release on December 14, more than two million people went to see Wonka at cinemas across the country.

The film surpassed the box office performance of the original 1971 Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder and Tim Burton’s 2005 film adaptation Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp.

Anyone But You, starring Sydney Sweeney, was the sleeper hit of the summer, says VM, “resonating with youth audiences” and securing one million admissions during the school holiday season.

Filmed across Sydney and the Blue Mountains, 48 per cent of admissions were from the 14 to 24-year-old age group.

Illumination Animation’s, Migration also attracted1.02 million admissions, while DC’s Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom was not far behind, with an impressive 974,000 admissions.

Furiosa is in post-production and will be released mid-year. Photo: Twitter/Chris Hemsworth

Australian cinema ‘gearing up’ for 2024

It will be the film franchises which will continue to attract movie-goers throughout the year ahead.

“We’re set to see some of the biggest and most iconic film franchises continue their cinematic journeys with the lovable Minions in Despicable Me 4 – the largest animation franchise globally, having surpassed $4 billion at the global box office with its latest instalment in 2023, and the highly anticipated Mufasa: The Lion King, the prequel to Disney’s 2019 live-action remake,” says Burbidge.

“In addition to these well-established franchises, audiences and brands can look forward to exciting new releases, including Wicked Part 1, which is expected to become one of the most monumental films in 2024.”

Over the next four months, there’s also Dune Part Two, Kung Fu Panda 4, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga.

Looking further ahead, audiences can expect blockbuster releases and cultural moments like Despicable Me 4, Deadpool 3, Joker: Folie a Deux, Wicked Part 1 and Mufasa: The Lion King.

“Yes, the content is super important, but why do people keep coming out and wanting to see cinema – as that affordable luxury, as part of the family entertainment suite?

“We’re very lucky to have a very strong set of exhibitors in this country that have invested heavily in the industry over the last five years,” Burbidge told Mumbrella earlier this month.

The Big 10 of 2024 – Release dates:

  • Dune: Part Two:  February 29
  • Kung Fu Panda 4: March 28
  • Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire: March 28
  • Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga: May 23
  • Inside Out 2: June 13
  • Despicable Me 4: June 20
  • Deadpool 3: July 25
  • Joker: Folie a Deux: October 3
  • Wicked Part 1: November 28
  • Mufasa: The Lion King: December 19
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