Huge summer for cinema as Aussies return to the movies in droves

Cinema is officially back, baby! The summer season has seen close to 10 million Aussies visit the movies over the six-week run from December 15, with younger demographics in particular enjoying the experience.

From December 15 — when Wonka opened — to January 28, cinemas across Australia saw 9.8 million admissions, driven by numerous big-hitters: Wonka, Anyone But You, Migration, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and Mean Girls, to name a few.

Almost half of total admissions across the holidays (48%) fell within the P14-39 demographic, due to a slate of family-friendly films, while the appetite is still clearly there for a big rom-com on the big screen.

Wonka has lead the charge into 2024, with over 2.05 million admissions since opening. Anyone But You, starring Sydney Sweeney and the Sydney Harbour Bridge (not necessarily in that order), was “the sleeper hit of the summer”, according to Val Morgan, selling 1.04 million tickets, with around half a million of these from the 14-24 demographic.

Kiddie-flick Migration accumulated 1.02 million admissions, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom sold 974,000 tickets, and Mean Girls (which most people weren’t aware was a musical upon entering the cinema), has had 460,000 admissions since its January 11 release, toppling Wonka from the peak of the box office during its opening weekend.

Speaking to Mumbrella recently, Val Morgan’s managing director Guy Burbidge said the cinema experience gives the movies an edge over other entertainment forms.

“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.”

For comparison’s sake, the Australian box office was $19.58m for the weekend of Dec 29-Jan 1 (the first weekend after the Boxing Day releases). In 2020, when the pandemic was still raging, Boxing Day weekend (Thursday to Sunday) brought in just $8.57 million.

This renewed love affair with the cinema shows no signs of slowing as we swing in February. This past weekend saw 476,000 Australians visit the movies, with new-release Argylle drawing 111,000 punters.

A number of tentpole releases are coming down the pipes: Dune Part Two, Kung Fu Panda 4, Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire and Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga are all coming in the first half of the year.

“We’re set to see some of the biggest and most iconic film franchises continue their cinematic journeys,” Burbidge said.

“The box office success of these franchises speaks volumes, marking a powerful opportunity for brands to align some of the most significant moments in our contemporary culture.”


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