Return to Movie-Going Threatened by Home Streaming Trend

May 31, 2022

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Demographics & Audiences | Industries | Media & Entertainment | Youth & Gen X

Box office revenues in the US and Canada doubled year-over-year last year as admissions rose, but both admissions and revenues remained well short of pre-pandemic levels. COVID no longer appears to be as much of a threat as it once was, according to data from Morning Consult, but streaming might continue to be one.

In fact, a majority (62%) of US adults feel comfortable going to a movie theater now, ranging from a low of 52% among Baby Boomers to a high of 80% among Gen Zers. This is the highest average level of comfort recorded by Morning Consult since it began tracking this metric just over 2 years ago, and is up by 18% points since the start of this year.

Still, frequent moviegoing is down: 41% said they go to the movies “often” or “sometimes,” down from 59% who did so before the pandemic.

That leaves a lot of infrequent moviegoers – people who say they go “rarely” or “never.” So what’s holding this group back from returning to the movie theater? As it stands, people seem to have come to enjoy the experience of watching movies at home.

Indeed, 55% of infrequent moviegoers said that a greater interest in watching movies at home is a major reason why they don’t regularly go to the movies. Another 27% said this is a minor reason. Previous research supports this inclination: a growing share of TV viewers report having paid to stream movies that skipped the theater due to COVID, and a separate survey found almost one-third (31%) of respondents saying they are interested in viewing new movie releases at home even after the pandemic is over, with 29% interested in paying to view a new movie release at home.

Beyond the temptation of streaming a movie at home, 82% of infrequent moviegoers cited cost as a major (50%) or minor (32%) reason for not going to the movies more regularly, saying it’s too expensive to see movies in theaters. Fewer (61%) said that concern over the pandemic is a reason, and a similar share (66%) said that they’re not interested in the films currently in theaters.

It will be interesting to see how these trends play out. Some forecasts are not too optimistic: last year, PwC data suggested that box office revenues would grow but by 2025 not yet match 2019’s total

About the Data: The results are based on an April-May 2022 survey of 2,210 US adults, including 1,297 infrequent moviegoers.

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