4.3 Quality of service
As well as the technical level of the infrastructure and the nature of programming, a third dimension helps us characterise the commercial position of the cinemas: the quality of service. This includes, amongst other things, the sale of related products, new methods of payment and the number of weeks per year that the cinema opens: these are the factors which we have chosen to consider here.
The sale of related products
The sale of related products is closely tied to a strategy of cinema renewal: the modernisation of a cinemas is accompanied in many cases by a restructuring of the foyer and the positioning there of a confectionery counter: automatic dispensers have also been successful as a substitute for in-auditorium sales, and more recently cafés have been introduced (see Figure number 26).
Whatever the sales method, confectionery gives a net profit margin of 30-35%. The new methods of marketing related products can, in the most modern complexes, represent sales of 1-1.3 ECU per spectator, or 30-40% of the exhibitors' takings, which is very close to the average results observed in the United States. In cases like these, the suppliers become the real partners of the cinemas. However, in the majority of European cinemas, the turnover achieved by related products remains limited to between 10 and 15% of takings.
This market is still embryonic, and could see substantial developments. But it presupposes an ability to invest the necessary for the relevant modernisation, which nowadays only the multiplexes can generally achieve.
The picture does, of course, vary between a country whose sector conforms to the intensive model, where related product revenues form an integral part of cinema services, and a country following the extensive model, where there is only a marginal diversification of products. Some southern countries form exceptions to this rule (Greece, Portugal), as cinemas there are also bars.




 Cinema opening hours
The cinema's hours of business, expressed as the number of weeks open per year and the number of weekly screenings per screen, increases with the number of screens on a site. The hours of business are equally high for circuits and independently-owned cinemas. Multiplexes which do not open 52 weeks of the year are rare, however, only 33% of single-screen cinemas open all the year round. All the others are closed for several weeks, or give way to non-cinema operations (live show etc.). The average European cinema shows films for 48.5 weeks a year, and has around 20 screenings per screen per week (or a little less than 3 screenings a day) (see Tables 32 and 33).
The multiplexes are not only distinguished from the others by a greater diversification of service; they differ from single-screen cinemas because they provide a continuous service.

 Table 32: Average number of weekly screenings per screen
Annual Average
Single-screen cinemas
2 screen complexes
3-5 screen complexes
6-7 screen complexes
Complexes with more than 8 screens
All Screens
Source: MEDIA Salles/BIPE Conseil


Table 33: Breakdown of screens by number of weekly screenings per screen and cinema ownership
Less than 7 screenings per week
7 to 14 
screenings per week
15 to 24 screenings per week
More than 25 screenings per week
Owned by a circuit
Owned by an independent
Owned by a public authority or a non-profit making organisation
New methods of buying tickets
To develop customer loyalty, exhibitors have introduced new methods of buying tickets, particularly season tickets. These season tickets illustrate real marketing skills: they help the exhibitor be sure of customer loyalty, by allowing pre-payment (and thus making a substantial financial gain); they also constitute a way of predicting behaviour patterns, and facilitate the introduction of new pricing strategies.
The circuits have made abundant recourse to this method of payment. For example, UGC announced that it achieved 15% of its ticket sales through its Privilege Card, which offers the user greater convenience (no queues, preferential prices).