Penny-Pinching Movie Viewers Skip the Theater - eMarketer

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Penny-Pinching Movie Viewers Skip the Theater

High ticket prices affect number of movie theater visits

January 30, 2015

The 2015 Oscars are getting closer, and it seems like everyone is rushing to watch the hot flicks before the winners are announced. While several are available via video-on-demand and other digital channels, others require consumers to head to the movie theater, an activity some believe is dying. After a year-over-year theatrical box office decline in summer 2014, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) took a look at the trend in a November 2014 study.

Reasons that US Adults Go to Movie Theaters Less Often*, Nov 2014 (% of respondents)

Despite the decline, PwC found that just one-quarter of US adult moviegoers had cut back on theater visits, and a similar percentage (27%) said they had gone more. The remaining 48% hadn’t changed their frequency.

Among those who had decreased theater visits or hadn’t changed their habits, higher ticket prices were the biggest reason (53%). What’s ironic is that 82% of consumers were willing to pay between $10 and $20 more than a ticket price to watch a newly released movie at home while it was in theaters—maybe because they would have spent that on snacks (extra buttery popcorn, anyone?), or maybe because the couch is just more comfortable and convenient (30% preferred to watch on their own schedule).

Other price-related reasons included a preference to spend money on other recreational activities (29%) or on going out to dinner (19%), and 18% said they didn’t have the same disposable income as they had 12 months ago.

When asked about what would influence them to go to the theater, US adults were most motivated by recommendations from friends, cited by 35%.

Factors that Influence Whether US Adults Will Go to a Movie Theater to Watch a Movie, Nov 2014 (% of respondents)

Advertising and professional reviews each garnered about one-quarter of respondents. An upgraded theater experience—often provided by a new theater—and social network recommendations had little influence.

US cinema ad spending is low compared with other media. Pivotal Research Group estimated in December 2014 that US cinema ad spending would total $720 million this year, accounting for just 1.0% of total national ad spending—a share that would hold steady through 2019. However, small gains were still expected: 4.1% in 2015, 5.3% in 2016 and 5.5% from 2017 to 2019, when spending was forecast to reach $890 million.

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