Number of cinema sites in the U.S. 1995-2020

In 2020, there were 5,798 cinema sites in the United States, a similar amount to the 5,773 recorded a decade earlier. However, a look at the figures during the mid to late 1990s shows that there has been a significant decrease in the number of cinema sites in the U.S., dropping from 7,744 in 1995 to just over 6,100 in 2005. With the increasing take-up of streaming services, leaked movie files available online and rising movie theater ticket prices, the gradually decreasing amount of cinema sites in the U.S. is just one way in which the film industry and the act of going to the movies have changed.

How cinema has changed

The practice of projecting movies onto a screen via 35mm film reels is no longer the norm, as digital methods prove simpler and more versatile. As a result, the number of analog movie screens in the U.S. has dwindled whilst digital screens (including 3D) take over the market. In fact, the number of 3D films released in North America has increased fivefold in ten years.

Further, whilst between 2006 and 2008 there were no movies shot in digital only format in the U.S. with a budget of over 160 million U.S. dollars, between 2015 and 2017 more than 70 percent of digital only movies had a budget larger than that figure.

Old-school methods – 35mm film

The method of shooting movies on 35mm was invented by Thomas Edison in the early 20th century, and many age-old classics filmed using this method have made their way into academia around the world. Notable movies shot on 35mm film include ‘The Great Train Robbery’ directed by Edwin S. Porter in 1903, ‘Battleship Potemkin’ by Sergei Eisenstein and 1915 epic ‘The Birth of a Nation’, as well as the surrealist feature ‘Un Chien Andalou’ by Luis Bunuel and artist Salvador Dali.

Number of cinema sites in the United States from 1995 to 2020

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Release date

January 2021


United States

Survey time period

1995 to 2020

Special properties

includes indoor and drive-in cinema

Supplementary notes

Indoor screen/site counts are for the last day of each year. As many drive-ins are closed for the winter on December 31, drive-in screen/site counts for each year are tallied the previous summer.

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Statistics on "Film industry in the U.S."

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