Australians are allocating less of their rising discretionary spending to going to cinemas- but 3 million baby boomers ought to guarantee a bright future for the industry if there enough films to appeal to their demographic.

That was the gist of leading demographer Bernard Salt’s keynote presentation, Managing and Engaging Generation Y, on Wednesday at the Australian International Movie Convention.

Belying the notion that Australia is well served with screens as a mature exhibition market, Salt urged cinema owners to target areas which will see a big growth in population in the next few years, mostly in WA and Queensland, driven largely by the resources boom.

Salt, a partner at KPMG Demographics Group, showed a graph of towns which are under-served with screens including Karratha, Busselton, Perth, Bunbury, Kalgoorlie, Mackay, Geraldton, Townsville, Rockhampton and Mt Isa.

He said Australia’s population will expand from 23 million to 26 million in the next 10 years and noted there are 3 million baby boomers who are about to retire who potentially could be the source of the next big peak in cinema going.

Salt quoted an ABS study which showed the average person’s income rose by 38% in the years 2006-2011 but in that period spending on cinema tickets went up by 19%, versus 404% on computer games and 163% on music concerts.

“You are not keeping pace with the growth in (people’s) wallets,” Salt told exhibitors. “You are losing market share. You could have doubled market share.”

He said the total number of people employed in cinemas had risen from 16,850 in 2006 to 20,080, most aged in their 20s. He urged exhibitors to give young employees more training because members of Generation Y “love adding to their CVs.” 

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  1. Very true about the baby boomers! My partner and I go to the cinema once a month. We try to choose an Australian film if we can! When we retire we will try to go the cinema every fortnight. Most of the films we see, the audience is over 40.

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