As distributors review what kind of film they have, they will begin to form assumptions as to the type of release they need. In total, across the UK and Republic of Ireland, 740 cinemas with more than 3,900 screens are available.
Different releases are managed in different ways. For example, a 'saturation' release at cinemas everywhere may open simultaneously on 1,000 screens UK-wide, playing at two or more screens per multiplex. This strategy, usually deployed for 'tentpole' titles also known as blockbusters such as large-scale sequels or star-led holiday releases, helps to accommodate mass audiences eager to consume a film at the earliest opportunity.
By contrast, specialised films offer a different cinematic experience. The UK release of, say, a documentary, foreign language film or revived classic may comprise 25 prints or fewer. Initially, it may play in selected locations where local audiences are known to favour such titles before potentially touring more widely in subsequent weeks. Very exceptionally, a film may be 'platformed' in a single location before rolling out. Most films released in the UK have what is termed a ’limited’ release with fewer than 100 prints.
London, with an increasingly diverse population of 12.4m people, accounts for about a quarter of UK cinema admissions.