A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46



(l) The Audience

32% of the adult civilian population go to the cinema once a week, 13% going more than once a week. Only 24% of adults do not go to the cinema at all. 65% of children of school age (five years and over) go to the cinema once a week or more and only 5% do not go at all. Thus the cinema reaches a large public, both adult and Juvenile.

Women are somewhat better represented than men in the cinema audience, and young people go to the cinema very much more than older people. 69% of those aged 16 to 19 years and 57% those in the twenties go once a week or more often, and these age groups form 37% of the total adult cinema audience as compared with 24% of the total adult population.

The cinema attracts a substantial audience amongst all economic groups but the higher paid sections of the working class go rather more frequently than others. Relatively high proportions of factory workers and of clerical and distributive workers (about 40%) go to the cinema once a week or more, whereas a high proportion of professional and managerial workers go less frequently, and about half of those who are retired or unoccupied do not go at all. Housewives go with average frequency. Working class children go to the cinema more often than middle and upper class children.

It is shown in Appendix 2 that compared with newspapers the cinema as medium of publicity is likely to reach relatively high proportions of young people, particularly those aged under twenty, and housewives and the more prosperous sections of the working class.

(2) Habits

70% of cinema goers, i.e. those who go to the at least once a month on the average, go regularly, about one third of these generally visiting the same cinema whatever the film being shown and two thirds choosing from the cinemas available in the area the one with the film think they will like best. 30% of cinema goers only go to the cinema when they think they will like the film that is on.

It is clear from these results that the habit of cinema-going is a strong one and that high proportions of cinema goers exercise very little choice or no choice as regards the films they see. There is however a substantial minority with whom the habit is less strong and who go more for the sake of seeing particular films.

About one half of mothers of children of school age or under, being about 70% of mothers whose children go to the cinema, say that, they know what film the children will see before letting them go. In most other cases the children are left free to go to what films they like, and a few mothers supervise the cinema-going of some of their children but not of others.

(3) Expenditure

The average price paid for cinema seats by adults was 1/9d., and it is estimated that about £85,400,000 is spent annually on cinema seats by adult civilians, and that the total annual expenditure of the civilian population of Great Britain on the cinema is something over £100,000,000.

It was found that people who go to the cinema often tend to pay less for their seats than those who go less frequently. Professional and managerial workers paid considerably more than those in other occupation groups, and clerical and distributive workers paid rather more than manual workers.

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