Cinema sector growing in Turkey but spectator rates still low
The Turkish cinema sector is ever growing. According to the “2013 Cinema Report” recently issued by Box Office, the size of the cinema sector has reached 2 billion Turkish Liras, a 6 percent rise compared to the previous year.
At the same time, the spectator record of all times has been broken. It could be said that the cinema sector is experiencing its golden years with 50.3 million spectators and 446 million liras in revenues at movie theaters. The number of Turkish films opening in 2013 was 88. In the past 10 years, the ratio of the increase in the number of Turkish films is a crazy figure of 372 percent.
Of course, the Turkish television soap operas that are hugely popular in the Middle East, North Africa and the Balkans should not be forgotten. The market volume of Turkish TV serials abroad is 60 million liras. Actors playing in these serials are treated as stars, particularly in the Middle East, and they are the indispensable faces of commercials.
However, the other side of the coin is unfortunately not as bright. We have seen the other not-so-bright side of the cinema sector in the “Ülker Children’s Cinema Festivity” organized in the eastern Black Sea province of Artvin; both in figures and in our experiences.
According to data provided by research done for the Ülker Group, in Turkey people are introduced to the cinema at an average age of 29. This is a rather late age when considering the immense contribution the art of cinema has on mental development, imagination and creativity.
On the other hand, we have a weak record in our frequency of going to the movies. In France, the per capita frequency of going to the movies is 3.4 a year, in the United Kingdom 2.7, in Spain 2.4 and in Greece 1.2. In Turkey, however, it’s just 0.6. Among European countries, we are at the very back in the habit of going to the movies. One of the reasons for this is that the habit of going to the movies is not very widespread while there are also not many movie theaters especially in Anatolia.
Only a few years ago, in provinces such as Tunceli, Bayburt, Şırnak, Kilis and Ardahan, there was not even a single movie theater. In Artvin’s biggest district, Arhavi, which has a population of 20,000, there was only one movie theater. It was fantastic to see the thrill of small children who came to the theater to see Disney’s blockbuster “Frozen.”
According to Zuhal Şeker, who is the corporate communications general manager for Ülker Group’s Yıldız Holding, the cinema festivity was able to host 750,000 children and 162,000 parents at movies in its sixth year. Because the festival is also an opportunity for parents to go to the movies as well as children, there had to be some restriction for the parents.
We personally saw that in Arhavi. Because the hall was full, mothers and fathers were waiting for their children outside the theater. Ülker aims to reach out to 1 million children by the year 2015. This year in 62 provinces, they were able to hold 720 sessions in 144 theaters in one day.
I hope the Ülker Group continues to organize these festivities so that children gain the habit of going to the movies; however, there needs to be cheaper alternatives like pocket cinemas in districts of Anatolia where cinemas do not exist.
As long as movie theaters do not increase in numbers and as long as ticket prices are not reduced, then it will be difficult, I think, to form the habit of going to the movies.