As we end our anniversary month and roll into February 2022, we take a moment to reflect on the road ahead for the Asian Film Archive.
We started the year with the sad news that Filmgarde Cineplexes would be closing down it’s cinemas at Bugis+ and Century Square. Filmgarde cited the general decline of cinema attendance over the last few years as one of the main reasons for their decision. According to the Singapore Film Commission statistics on cinema attendance, the number of filmgoers has been dropping since 2016. Singapore is not in a unique position: in the US, commercial theatres have witnessed declining ticket sales since 2002.
Accompanying the general downward trend of going to the cinema is the more worrying drop in attendance of the younger generation: Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 only attended 3.2 movies on average in the last 12 months in 2021, compared to 9.1 in 2007; in Australia, visitors between the ages of 14 and 24 watched on average 7.4 movies in the last year in 2019, compared to 9.7 in 2009. The expansion of streaming services as alternatives to cinemas in the last two years during the pandemic will ineluctably have further impact on cinema attendance moving forward.
However, as an IndieWire article notes, a majority of moviegoers still considered “their local art house theater valuable to their overall quality of life”. In the same article, several independent exhibitors and distributors also express their observations that while commercial cinemas might be on the decline, the film community still values the theatrical experience and the offerings from art house and independent screens.
The work of the AFA is multi-fold – to preserve and make Asian cinema available for future generations to come. Through our critical and engaging programmes, we aspire to reach a wider audience and to provide a space for filmgoers to experience our cinematic heritage on the big screen. .
If you believe in our work and would like to be a part of the action, you can:
- Catch a film at our regular programmes (and bring a friend along!)
- Volunteer with us
- Make a gift to us
Last but not least, thank you for journeying with us over the last 17 years. We hope to see you around for many more ahead.