EXCLUSIVE: Lionsgate UK CEO calls for cheaper ticket prices for British films.
Lionsgate UK CEO Zygi Kamasa has called for greater flexibility of cinema ticket-pricing, as a way to stimulate admissions and increase demand for British films.
“Exhibitors have to do something drastic in 2015 and beyond to counter the decline in admissions,” he told ScreenDaily.
“One way to do this could be to implement more price flexibility. Why is Marvel’s Avengers, for example, the same price as a film such as What We Did On Our Holiday?”
Cost of production
“In most other industries, retail price is related to the cost of production, but not in the film business,” he continued.
“A blockbuster can cost $250m and a UK independent film can cost $4m but it’s £10 or more to see both. I think we should see UK films priced at £4 and US films at £10. A trip to the cinema isn’t cheap anymore.
“I have spoken to some UK exhibitors and they are open to more flexibility because they realise they have to do something.”
Experts widely agree that cinema admissions in 2014 will be significantly lower than in recent years.
A price cut on some tickets would impact exhibitors and distributors alike but Kamasa suggested the cut could lead to long-term gains: “We have the tax credit, the BFI and other support networks here but I think UK film needs a bigger support from UK distributors and exhibitors and this could be one way to do that.”
While exhibitors have predicted a bounce back year next year with a surge in likely blockbusters including Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Bond 24, MI: 5; Jurassic World andAvengers: Age of Ultron, Kamasa cautioned that the string of tent-poles could also damage local diversity.
“The exhibitors might be happy next year but the problem is you’ll likely have 20 films that take $40m+ each and not much beside,” he warned. “They will account for more than 95% of the business and it could lead to an unhealthy lack of cultural diversity.”
In recent years Lionsgate UK has made a concerted push to support British films, releasing eight this year, including Locke, The Invisible Woman, Postman Pat and What We Did On Our Holiday. 2015 releases include drama Testament of Youth and comedy Absolutely Anything.
“We continue to be enormously prolific in supporting British films,” said Kamasa. “It’s one of the big growth areas in this business and we are involved in acquisitions and production.”
“We are looking to release at least seven-eight every year going forward because these films have been financially successful for us. I want to invest more money in them going forward.”
Lionsgate UK has also played a part in drawing large, upcoming US-driven Lionsgate productions to shoot in the UK, including London Has Fallen, Criminal and Now You See Me 2.
Zygi Kamasa is speaking at the Screen Film Summit, which takes place at the BFI on December 1.