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Seating capacity and space requirements

Auditorium at Derby QUAD

The amount of space required for each auditorium depends on a number of factors but the figures below provide an approximate guide. The calculations are based on a modern design using 1.10–1.20 metres from seat back to seat back and 550 – 600mm seat widths.

  • 200 seats: 270m² / 2,900 ft2
  • 150 seats: 190m² / 2,000 ft2
  • 75 seats: 125 m² / 1,350 ft2

The number of screens and the auditorium capacity depend on many factors ranging from audience potential estimates and the programming range that is planned to the finance available and the characteristics and size of the site or building. In general one medium or large auditorium seating at least 150 people is required. A more typical capacity is around 200-230 seats. This auditorium should be able to accommodate the peak audiences at weekends – people turned away from a full house may not return.

Additional auditoria should be graduated in size down to 70-100 seats for the smallest screen. The variation in capacity allows films to be placed in auditoria that match their anticipated audience. Smaller capacity auditoria may prove to be viable as outlined in the section about Digital cinemas.  There are a few new community cinemas beginning to buck the trend as cities gain small single screening rooms with unusual or luxury seating.  It is, however, advisable to carefully investigate the operational economics of operating such small auditoria before including them in a new design or a refurbishment project.

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