Why Orange Wednesdays, cinema's famous 2-for-1 deals, are ending

Orange Wednesday

On Wednesday, EE mobile phone users get their last ever Orange Wednesday deal, letting them claim two cinema tickets for the price of one.

The company behind the phone operators announced last year that it was ending the promotion because its customers' "viewing habits had evolved".

It promises to have another package to offer soon.

But there was speculation that the company couldn't reach a commercial deal with a cinema chain.

In a statement issued in December, EE said: "Orange Wednesday launched over a decade ago and at its peak was a massive success and an iconic promotion.

"After 10 great years our brand has changed and our customers' viewing habits have also evolved so it's time to move on.

"That's why the final credits will roll for Orange Wednesdays at the end of February 2015. We're working on new customer entertainment rewards and we'll provide more detail soon."

Image caption A cheap midweek evening out watching a top release could be over

2013's box office attendance was the lowest in 20 years, according to Rentrak.

Cinemas in the UK and Ireland saw box office takings drop 2.9%, or around £34 million, from 2013 - the most significant change since 1991.

Blame, in part, was being directed at a lack of Hollywood blockbusters on screens that year.

But it was also put down to the increasing cost of a ticket and people downloading films and box sets at home on a tablet, TV or phone.

Sam Claflin, who has appeared in Pirates of the Caribbean and stars in the Hunger Games movie franchise, said the end of the deal could "potentially" have an impact on box office figures.

Sam Claflin and Natalie Dormer
Image caption Sam Claflin and Natalie Dormer walked the red carpet together at the Baftas earlier this month

"As much as I've never been with Orange mobiles, it's never really affected me personally," he says.

"But as a film buff, I don't feel that I have kind of stopped going to the cinema personally.

"I think you only have to look at the outstanding British film nominations [at the Baftas] to realise that there's such a vast range of different genres that are being made now. From Under the Skin to Paddington, it's such an incredible feat.

"And I think, people are being more creative and there are really, really interesting projects out there.

"It is a shame that people aren't going to see them I suppose as much in the cinema because that's the real experience of film."

But Stephen Fry says it's not as simple as people being turned off film and brands the decline as "sad".

Stephen Fry
Image caption Stephen Fry thinks the passion for cinema is 'higher than ever'

"I don't know whether one can factor in the figures for those who wait in order to watch Netflix, iTunes and other such downloads.

"Because I think that's really on the up enormously and the passion for cinema and for movies is the greatest I think that it's ever been.

"So the fact that it's not reflected in box office returns is sad, because I think filmmakers and everyone like to see their movies watched in proper, big, big cinemas.

"Indeed Imax and funnily enough, you get things like Game of Thrones being shown in Imax cinemas.

"It's disappointing but actually that's bound to happen but over a longer period I think. I think you'll find that cinema attendance is still pretty good."

And he's not wrong. 2014 did mark the fifth consecutive year that the film industry exceeded the £1.1 billion mark.

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