“The decline of cinemas in rural areas can be explained by recent urbanization, as well as the bankruptcy of Astoria Cinemas in 2007,” Torkel Stål, analyst at the Swedish Film Institute (SFI), told The Local.
The decline has seen 139 cinemas close down in the country since 2001, taking Sweden’s total to just 478, according to SFI’s statistics.
SF Bio, which is owned by the Bonnier Group, has long been the leading cinema chain in Sweden.
It operates 35 cinemas with 244 screens in over 20 cities across the country after taking over from Astoria Cinema’s provincial theatres in 2007.
Västernorrland in the north and Dalarna in central Sweden are two counties where the heaviest decrease has occurred, with nearly four out of ten cinemas vanishing within ten years.
Blekinge is the only county in Sweden to record an increase in the number of cinema complexes in the last ten years, boasting seven now compared to only six in 2001.
“Statistics from 2001 show the number of cinemas in Stockholm county has decreased from 40 to 29,” Stål said.
The number of actual theatres, however, has stayed at 116, he added.
The decline has nothing to do with people not wanting to go to the cinemas. If anything the number of people buying tickets has increased, Stål explained.
Stål believes the future of Swedish cinemas will include a continued decline in the number of complexes, but that there will be more cinema screens and visits.
While Stål confessed that people downloading films online had an effect on cinema figures, he claimed it did not influence closure figures.