Screen Time? Cinemas and Town Centres – Stirlingretail interviews Rob Arthur of The Big Picture
One of the things that people have missed though the pandemic is the ability to go to a cinema and see a film. This is a social as well as an artistic activity, whihc raises questions about the types and locations of cinemas. Given they are a customer draw and can be an asset and attractor for a place and for people, there is considerable interest in cinemas and town centres.
With the announcement last week of the The Arc’s plans for a cinema in Ayr, I thought it might be interesting to get some reflections on cinemas and town centres in Scotland. I therefore asked Rob Arthur, who is a Director at The Big Picture (Cinema Advisers) Ltd and has over 30 years of experience of working in cinema globally to provide some comments. His thoughts are below.
“Scotland has a vibrant, successful, and diverse cinema sector which has seen a steady period of growth from the very first multiplex location constructed at Clydebank in 1988 through to the latest opening of the Highland Cinema in Fort William in late 2020. The development of digital, 3D and alternative content (opera, ballet, sports, entertainment shows, gaming) has supported this growth.
Total Scottish box office in 2019 was £100m. 33 cinemas in Scotland are operated by the major chains – Cineworld, Odeon, Vue, Showcase, Empire and Everyman. The majors concentrate their efforts on the main cities and large population densities, but do not venture outwards to expand and extend cinema-going to smaller and less densely populated areas of the country. The other 74 venues are independent or arthouse from the Mareel in Shetland to the newly upgraded Picture House in Campbeltown. These venues play a critical part in the cultural and social networking across the country in any given year.
There is a strong commitment to the future of the industry from all key stakeholders – investors, landlords, developers, producers, operators, and key suppliers – to enable future openings that includes a new Vue Cinema at Glasgow’s St Enoch Centre and an Everyman boutique offer at the St James Quarter in Edinburgh. Plans are underway for new further developments in Aberdeen, Cumbernauld, Dumfries, Montrose, Paisley, and The Arc’s newly announced plans for Ayr…