Average U.K. Adult Watched 36 Films in Locked-Down 2020, BFI Research Reveals

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The average Briton watched 36 films across different platforms during the pandemic-stricken 2020, new research shows.

Cinemas were closed for large stretches of 2020, but 31% of all U.K. adults watched at least one film at the cinema in 2020, according to research published Friday by the British Film Institute (BFI) from its audience study.

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U.K. cinemas remained closed into 2021 and will finally reopen May 17.

The research was commissioned by the BFI in June 2020, prior to cinemas reopening in July, and subsequently repeated in April 2021 in preparation for the May 17 reopening. The study further shows that audiences are more comfortable with returning to the cinema than they were last year.

Watching films is a universal activity with 92% of adults saying they watched at least one film in the past year, the research found. The highest consumption of film was by adults in Scotland and the Southwest of England, while adults in the West Midlands viewed the least. Londoners were the biggest cinema-goers in 2020.

Online subscription streaming services had the largest share with 42% of all film viewing. Broadcast television had 34%, down 3% year-over-year.

Ben Roberts, BFI chief executive, said: “Understanding audiences during the disruption of the pandemic has been important for cinemas as they get ready to welcome them back. Over the past 12 months we can see that people across the U.K. have loved watching films but are now feeling more confident than ever about returning to that big screen communal experience that makes cinema-going so special. Often the only form of culture within their communities, the government’s Culture Recovery Fund has been a life-raft for independent cinemas in saving them from going under and being able to reopen again for their audiences.”

Some 2% of the U.K. population claimed to have no interest in films.

Separately, a study commissioned by the cross-industry body Cinema First reveals that 38% of U.K. audiences plan to return within the first month of sites reopening, and another 34% within the first few months of reopening.

The study also confirms that teens, young adults and families will be among the first to return. Over 59% of audience members surveyed agreed that the cinema experience cannot be recreated at home, citing spectacular visuals and immersive sound and the unique atmosphere that only the cinema can provide.

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