LONDON — The worldwide exhibition sector will continue to consolidate, according to a report released Thursday by U.K.-based cinema analysts Dodona Research.
Some 64 companies own 31,855 screens worldwide, up from 2004 when 51 companies owned 29,747 screens.
Rapid consolidation took place in the U.S. driven by a wave of loop bankruptcies in the early part of the decade but recent acquisition growth has been most marked in South Korea, driven by local circuits Lotte Cinema and CJ CGV.
Other significant consolidators have been Cinebox in Spain, which merged with the Cines Abaco chain, Palace Cinemas in Central Europe, and Major Cineplex in Thailand.
“We think that the medium term impact of the changeover to digital projection will benefit the largest circuits, at the same time as creating opportunities for innovation and even new theater formats among more imaginative small circuits and independents,” said report author Karsten Grummitt. “It is harder to see what is in it for medium-sized operators, so we expect the steady trend towards consolidation in the industry to continue.”
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Per Dodona, the world’s largest circuits are Regal Entertainment Group (6,369 screens), Cinemark (4,645), AMC Entertainment (4,638), Carmike Cinemas (2,399) and, the largest Europe-based circuit, Odeon UCI (1,754). Latin America’s largest circuit, Mexican-based Organizacion Ramirez Cinemas, comes next with 1,661 screens. Asia’s biggest exhibitor is the Japanese film company, Toho, in 17th place with 563 screens.