The fine folks over at Harris might be best known for their polling work during the lead-up to election season, but the company actually works year round, gauging public opinion on a wide variety of issues. This week, they decided to tackle the movie industry and more specifically, why people are or are not venturing out to the theater. Like most extremely detailed reports, this one is filled with a lot of numbers and pretty obvious revelations, but upon closer examination, it’s actually overflowing with a ton of fascinating information about how our movie-going habits are collectively changing and staying the same too.
Luckily, rather than having to read all the graphics and jump to these conclusions yourself, I’ve gone through and picked out 5 fascinating little tidbits that point to larger trends. You can thank me later. In the meantime, here are the things you really need to know…
1. Safety Is Not A ConcernWhen asked why people stayed away from the movies, a majority pointed to concession prices, rude moviegoers and advertisements, while issues of safety wasn’t a common enough answer to even be talked about. Obviously, these responses were given long before yesterday’s texting tragedy, but they were given well after the Dark Knight Rises shooting. That means, while safety was on the forefront of people’s minds in the wake of the initial tragedy, Americans eventually settled back in and returned to one of their favorite pasttimes. The same will no doubt occur now. We could see metal detectors. We could see some slight safety alterations, but Americans, on the whole, will always feel comfortable at the theater.
2. People Still Watch Movies On TVHave you ever been sitting on your couch watching Shawshank Redemption on basic cable and trying to muster the strength to get up and pop your own copy in the Blu-ray player to avoid commercials? Well, you’re not the only one and apparently, the majority of people ultimately decide it’s not worth it. 60% percent of people confessed to regularly watching televised movies live during their time slots. 28% regularly DVR movies and watch them later. I’d make some kind of snarky comment here, but in all seriousness, I’ve got the original Mighty Ducks sitting on my DVR right now.
3. Way Less People Sneak Food Into Theaters Than You’d GuessOr people are just liars. Seriously, I’m not saying I’m always in favor of smuggling in outside food and drinks, but I’ve obviously done it before. In fact, I’ve had this conversation with friends and family members quite a few times, and I’m not sure I’ve ever come across someone who claimed they’ve never once even brought in some pretzels or a bottle of water. That’s like five percent of the reason women carry purses. But according to the Harris poll, only 58% of people admit they’ve broken the no food or drink rule. That’s way lower than I would have guessed, and it kind of makes me think I might only be associating with lowlifes.
4. Star Power Is Still A DrawPeople like to act like Americans are such savvy filmgoers. While the rest of the world might stand in line for anything that involves their favorite actors or actresses, we’ve supposedly acquired discerning taste buds over the years that require films to do more than just slap a movie star’s face on the front of a poster. Maybe that’s true to some degree, but 32% of people cited favorite actor or actress as their primary reason for going to the movies. That was high enough to tie for first place with "good word of mouth". So, to sum up here: people are just as likely to go see a movie if it has Tom Cruise as they are if all of their friends have told them it’s incredible. Good to know.
5. People Say They’re Going To The Movies Less Often But That’s Okay66% of people claim they go to the movies less often than they did a few years ago. On the surface, that sounds horrendous. After all, at one point in time, 66% of people were developing film less often and using horse and carriages less often, but in a way, that’s actually to be expected. In general, as people get older, they see less movies. 18 to 36 year-olds see more than six movies a year, while those who are older than 68 see, on average, 3.2. Consequently, it only makes sense that most people would be going to less movies than they were a few years ago. Besides, the total number of tickets sold isn’t exactly cratering.