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Which country goes to movies the most?

If I ask you, the residents of which country go often to the cinemas, you are sure to get it wrong. It is not the Indians, not the Chinese, and not even the Americans.

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The top place goes to the Icelanders. The cold country of 330,000 residents visits on an average 4.3 times to a cinema hall in 2018 for watching a film. Next to them (again a surprise entry) are the South Koreans who visit 4.2 times a year. The Americans at 3.7 visits come at the third position. Indians and Chinese don’t figure in the top 30 entries as per World in Figures by The Economist newspaper.

[Courtesy: The Economist World in Figures] Cinema attendances: total visits per person
[Courtesy: The Economist World in Figures] Cinema attendances: total visits per person
The next one is easier to guess. The country which has the highest number of visits, in other words, the country with the most number of cinema-goers, the top place unsurprisingly goes to China with 1.7 Billion visitors per year in 2018. Following that is India with 1.4 Billion. In third place are the United States with 1.2 Billion.

If you do a bit of research there are surprises here too:

  • In 2015, China had only 333 million visitors, with India then leading with 3.2 Billion visitors. For unknown reasons, India’s moviegoers have come down by more than 50% and the Chinese have been going to movies five times more in just three years.
  • In 2018, in fourth and fifth position after the USA, are Mexico and South Korea respectively.

[Courtesy: The Economist World in Figures] Cinema attendances: total visits
[Courtesy: The Economist World in Figures] Cinema attendances: total visits
Of course, in 2020 and 2021 these figures have come down drastically due to the pandemic. As per The Numbers, the number of tickets sold in the USA for 2018 was 1311 million (closer to the figure we saw in The Economist estimate for 2018 in the above graph); this got reduced to 223 million in 2020, a fall of six times. This can be validated with data from the Statista for 2020, which puts the number of tickets sold in China to be 536 million (a fall of three times), in India to be 355 (a fall of four times) and in the USA to be 229 million (a figure similar to what we read in The Numbers).

[Courtesy: Statista 2021] Leading film markets worldwide in 2020, by number of tickets sold (in millions).
[Courtesy: Statista 2021] Leading film markets worldwide in 2020, by the number of tickets sold (in millions).
When we are talking about the number of moviegoers, there is the other side to the coin, the growth of OTT platforms including YouTube. The topic of OTT and the future of content distribution with regards to India was covered in detail by a talk in 2019 by Mr Senthil Kumar of Qube Cinema and Mr Sanjay Wadhwa of AP International, you can read about it here.

E & Y Report 2019 – Digital media for India in 2018
E & Y Report 2019 – Digital media for India in 2018

As per reports by Research Dive, the global over-the-top (OTT) market was $110.1 billion in 2018 has grown to over $155.6 billion in 2020. It is expected to grow 19.1% (CAGR) annually till 2026.

The BusinessWire says “In India, the top 5 metro cities account for 55% of the total OTT video platform users, while Tier one cities account for another 36% of the users. As per the survey, Hotstar leads the Indian OTT video content market, followed by Amazon’s Prime Video, SonyLIV & Netflix”.

According to findings from the Media and Entertainment Outlook 2020, “India is currently the world’s fastest-growing OTT (over-the-top streaming) market and is all set to emerge as the world’s sixth-largest by 2024. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 28.6% over the next four years to touch revenues of $2.9 billion”. The reports add that “In 2018, SVoD (Subscription Video-on-Demand) revenues were a third of India’s total box office revenue, but 2020 presents a key tipping point as SVoD revenue overtakes theatrical earnings”.

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