The big screen regains its popularity in Quebec

The big screen ;screen regains its popularity in Quebec

The smell of seats and popcorn, the giant screen that dazzles and the volume that dives into immersion. No doubt, more and more Quebecers are reconnecting with the taste of going to the cinema. After three years of occasional closings, social distancing and checkered outings, Quebec cinemas are showing a sharp increase in attendance, returning to their pre-pandemic level.

Some 569,000 Quebecers went to see a film at the cinema in the week of December 30, 2022 to January 5, 2023. These good figures would concern multiplex cinemas as well as independent cinemas.

Such a level of attendance had not been reached since the week of December 27, 2019 to January 2, 2020, a few weeks before the pandemic. This recovery brings the best to theater owners.

2022, more or less difficult

Overall, this increase follows a complicated fall 2022 due to a low number of new films showing, believes Éric Bouchard, co-president of the Association of Quebec Cinema Owners (APCQ). Last year was marked by a lockdown in January and social distancing measures in February, but a return to normal from March to the end of the year. However, the end of the health measures has not led to a return to normal assistance across the province.

“There has been a notable return to normality since the fall of 2022”, notes despite everything Roxanne Sayegh, general manager of the Beaubien, Parc and Museum cinemas, with a different programming from large multiplex cinemas . She also notes that the situation was different for these rooms after the summer.

“Since the fall, there has been a constant increase in attendance,” also notes Jarrett Man, director of Cinéma Moderne at Mile-End. Cinéma Moderne and Cinéma Beaubien show more Quebec films than some competitors. In the week of November 25 to December 1, local productions made up 30.7% of views, a score higher than the annual average of 8%.

For Mr. Man, the diversified programming of his one-screen cinema explains these good figures. In 2023, “my objective is that we exceed the pre-pandemic figures”, he enthuses. The same optimism is observed on the side of Roxanne Sayegh.

2023, a good omen

The beginning of 2023 and the end of 2022 were marked by the distribution of the American blockbuster Avatar: The Path of waterwhich recorded a mega success at the box office worldwide. American films monopolize 92% of cinema admissions at the start of the year.

“We are only as good as the films we present,” quips Mr. Bouchard, recalling that the best selling point of cinemas lies in the trailers broadcast before a screening. A successful film can therefore encourage its viewers to return to the cinema.

People need to get out of their homes. They have toured the offer of digital platforms and they want to see something other than their basements.

Éric Bouchard, co-president of the APCQ

With the good figures that cinemas are experiencing, bringing viewers back is no longer a concern, according to the co-president of the APCQ . He would rather have them come back more regularly.

Considering the performance of the first weeks of 2023 and the releases to come, the Beaubien, Parc and Musée cinemas estimate that this year they will return to their pre-pandemic revenues.

“In summer we wanted to see each other, be outside, but in the fall, spectators returned to the cinema”, analyzes Jarrett Mann. He has hope for cinema in Quebec.

Independent cinemas in Montreal would do well, because the city has a large pool of cinephiles avaricious of festivals intended for the seventh art, he believes. Moreover, in its cinema, films available on digital platforms would still arouse the interest of the public.

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