Regional cinema survival in the age of streaming

REGIONAL CINEMA: The rise of popular streaming platforms provide quick, flexible alternatives to a night out at the cinema. Photo: The Roxy Facebook.
REGIONAL CINEMA: The rise of popular streaming platforms provide quick, flexible alternatives to a night out at the cinema. Photo: The Roxy Facebook.

Compared to other nations such as Japan, where the cinema industry is booming, Australia is not faring quite as well when it comes to a night out at the movies. 

The rise of popular streaming platforms such as Netflix provide cheap, quick, flexible alternatives to a night out at the cinema. These consumer-friendly streaming platforms are disrupting the traditional cinema business. So what does this mean for small-time, independent, regional cinemas like the South West Roxy cinema tucked away on the Mid North Coast of NSW?

Quite frankly, nothing too dramatic if you can get creative.

Speaking to the Argus, owner of the South West Roxy Andrew Mercado says that the only way to survive disruption is with creativity and innovation.

“The Roxy has survived the emergence of television, it’s survived colour TV, it survived video in the 80’s and it will survive streaming.The future of the Roxy is in whatever added extras I can be innovative with. For example not just having the film but having extras like Q&As where we stay behind and talk about the film like a book club.”

“I held an event where we had a mystery movie and I asked people to dress up in 1960’s gear - I didn't think anyone would come to that but I had a full house.”

SWINGING SIXTIES: It was a full house at the South West Roxy's 60's mystery movie night. Photo: South West Roxy Facebook page.

SWINGING SIXTIES: It was a full house at the South West Roxy's 60's mystery movie night. Photo: South West Roxy Facebook page.

Mr Mercado says competition with bigger cinemas like Event Cinemas and Hoyts is not really an issue, but dealing with some of the movie distributors is tough.

“People can drive to other cinemas in Port Macquarie and there’s not much I can do about that. What makes it difficult for me is that I only have one screen yet I’m treated as if I have many screens by the distributors. Sometimes I have to say no to a film because I simply cannot screen it as much as they want me to.”

When it comes to bringing in crowds and the survival of the cinema industry Mr Mercado says it’s all about the content.

“No matter how many people are in town or what the weather is – ultimately it’s always about the movie and eventually the right movie comes along and the people pour in.”