Yahoo executives discuss film audiences.

Yahoo’s head of entertainment Michael Pennington has warned that the UK needs an “evolution in the cinema-going experience” if it is to draw bigger audiences to cinemas.

Pennington was speaking alongside Yahoo’s research director Patrick Hourihan and Paramount Pictures UK’s head of digital Katie Khan at an event in London.

The executives were sanguine about the potential for growth in the UK market but cautioned that the market must make strides in key areas.

“The problem isn’t that stories aren’t being told, but the way that they’re being told isn’t attracting audiences,” said Pennington.

“I think we need an evolution in the cinema-going experience. The average UK citizen goes to the cinema 2.8 times a year. That’s not much. That means there’s a wealth of amazing stories people aren’t seeing.”

Pennington’s comments come at a time when box office is suffering in the UK and cinemas and exhibitors are scrambling to find new ways to attract audiences, including through more live events.

“3D and IMAX have been innovations that people have taken to. Things like out-door cinemas, all-inclusive tickets [also work].”

“We need to keep innovating”, echoed Hourihan.

The Yahoo executives talked about the growing importance of live events to their business: “Live events are core for us at Yahoo. We do a lot of live streaming of red carpet events, or live streaming of Q and A’s. Our viewers flock to them. Giving users access to those special moments that only Hollywood studios can provide is phenomenal.”

Other points of discussion included the streaming of content and the threat of Netflix’s original content to the theatrical box office.

“As long as Netflix’s convenience continues and grows it could get to that level,” said Hourihan.

However, Pennington didn’t see Netflix’s original content as a threat, stating that there are bigger problems that need to be solved, such as the UK “lagging” in some technological areas such as how customers purchase cinema tickets online, compared to the US’s popular site, Fandango.