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Media statistics > Cinema > Average cinema visits

Frequency of cinema visits
percentage of sample

This survey, conducted by Kathleen Box, was published in B Seebohm Rowntree and G R Layers: English Life and Leisure (London: Longmans, Green & Co, June 1951). The commentary is taken from the report. The data relate to 1947.
Persons over 16 years of age
  men women
  % %
more than once a week 3 4
twice a week 9 10
once a week 25 21
once a fortnight 9 9
once a month 9 11
less than once a month 23 20
never 32 25
Persons under 16 years of age
  boys girls
  % %
more than once a week 6 7
twice a week 13 10
once a week 26 26
once a fortnight 6 7
once a month 6 8
less than once a month 9 11
never 34 31

The main bulk of those, among both adults and children, who do not go to the cinema at all are understandably found in the two extreme age groups. Thus 77 per cent of children under 4 never go to the cinema (although even at this age 4 per cent go or are taken more than twice a week). Similarly 61 per cent of adults over the age of 60 never go.
          If cinemagoing habits are tabulated according to age group it appears that there is a steady rise in frequency from the earliest age to the 16-19 age group. Thereafter there is a steady decline, which is particularly sharp between the ages of 30 and 39, when the claims of parenthood are probably most exacting. Among persons aged 60 or over, only 11 per cent attend the cinema once a week or more often, and it is worth noting that this is a smaller percentage than in the age group 0 to 4.
          These figures, referring to Britain as a whole, tend to conceal the even greater importance of the cinema in the lives of urban dwellers. For example, in a special survey of the London borough of Willesden, carried out by Bertram Hutchinson for the Social Survey in the winter of 1946-7, it was found that 46 per cent of the adult population of that borough go to the cinema once a week or more often, as against 32 per cent for the country as a whole, while only 18 per cent never go, as against 27 per cent in the whole country. [1]
          Furthermore, in Willesden, only 39 per cent of persons aged 60 or over never go to the cinema, whereas the proportion in the whole country is 61 per cent. These differences are of some interest because they illustrate the fact that, as might have been expected, cinema-going is so frequent in an area of dense population that, in the words of the Willesden survey report, "By far the most common recreational activity was the cinema."
          It should not, however, be thought that because the cinema plays so important a part in the lives of those living in urban areas it is of no great significance in rural areas. Few villages are now so devoid of public transport that the cinema is inaccessible. For example, Joyce Ward, in the report Children out of School prepared for the Central Advisory Council for Education in the winter of 1947, pointed out that 28 per cent of children from 5 to 15 years of age living in rural areas go to the cinema once a week or more often. [2]
          Considering again the nation as a whole, it is possible from Kathleen Box's report already quoted to consider the composition of cinema audiences. The main fact that emerges is that having regard to educational background, occupational groups and sex, there is a remarkable parallel between the composition of cinema audiences and that of the nation as a whole. There is, however, a substantial variation in the matter of age. The proportion of young adults, particularly those between 20 and 29 years, tends to be unduly high in a cinema audience and, as already noted, older people tend to stay away. Similarly women make up 62 per cent of adult civilian cinema audiences, whereas they represent only 54 per cent of the population.
          On the whole, however, it remains true to say that to a surprising degree cinema audiences in the aggregate are composed of all sections of the community in proportions not greatly different from their relation to each other in the nation as a whole, with the exception that the proportion of young people is unduly high.
1 Social Survey Report No. NS 88, Willesden and the New Towns, quoted by permission of the Central Office of Information.
2 Social Survey Report No. NS no, Children out of School, quoted by permission of the Central Office of Information.

Cinema statistics index

Page created 22 April 2009
David Fisher