Where have all the movie goers gone?

Where have all the movie goers gone?

iModerate Author

Sep 24, 2014

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A New York Times article published late last month exclaimed that this past summer was the worst for box office sales since 1997. Of the thin blockbuster line-up this summer, 12 films were sequels, three-quarters of which fell flat on their face. The author attributes this to not providing novelty to the audience—whether it’s the content, the cast, or the scenery that changes, a sequel will only bring back old fans and draw in new fans if it offers something new to viewers.

It turns out that viewers aren’t only looking for novelty from the movies themselves, but also the movie-going experience as a whole. In this day and age of streaming from home, consumers are hesitant to spend the money on tickets, and expect more out of the experience when they do splurge. A trip to the theater is often viewed as a risk; if they don’t enjoy the movie, they’ve wasted what many consumers consider a small fortune. How do theaters draw movie-goers out of their homes and to the box offices when they can stream beloved movies and TV shows risk-free, and often for free, from their own living rooms? Here’s what 100 consumers told us will make them hit pause on Netflix and grab a seat in the crowd.

  1. I’ll take mine on the rocks, please. With access to Netflix, Hulu, RedBox, OnDemand, and TiVo, there is very little in the way of TV Shows and movies that consumers don’t have at their fingertips. With this in mind, it’s crucial to maximize the experience of being in the theater. Consumers will pay the high ticket price if they feel that they’re getting an experience that they couldn’t create in the comfort of their own living room. They’re looking for plush, La-Z-Boy style lounge seating, ramped up food service, upscale alcoholic beverages, and more.


  1. Everyone’s doing it… The American Consumer of today has acclimated to the post-recession economy as a savvy shopper. They aren’t used to paying full price, and frankly, often think they’d be foolish to do so, especially for the going price of a ticket. Multiply that ticket price for the whole family to join, and you have a bill equivalent to a weeks’ worth of groceries.  While they’re not expecting to receive the discounts that they can frequently fish out of their favorite retailers, they’d like theaters to play into their saavy-shopper side. Offer bundle deals (free popcorn with ticket purchase!) or group ticket discounts (4 tickets for the price of three!) and singles and families alike will be more apt to enjoy the latest feature film.


  1. Enough with the sweets. With limited free time, consumers are choosing to participate in healthier activities such as hiking or playing in the park. While the movies will never be seen as a healthy activity compared to physical exercise, not everyone headed to the theaters is looking to down a supersized soda and overflowing bag of popcorn. More wholesome snack offerings (such as vegetables, fruit, trail mix, and smoothies) would make these folks more likely to consider a trip to the theater. In particular, parents would appreciate snack offerings more substantial than buttered popcorn served alongside cavity-inducing candy and soda. By offering healthier alternatives to the usual theater snacks, a trip to the movies will seem less gluttonous to the health-conscious crowd.


Want to learn more? Check out our full report on consumers and the movies here 

iModerate Author

Our research work with iModerate over the past several years has developed into a true partnership. Their unique fusion of both qualitative and quantitative methodologies in a single study has offered new insights into key topics and markets of interest for our organization, which in turn, we are able to quickly turn into action steps. They are flexible, responsive, and extremely engaged in the entire project process, from conception and design to final data processing and delivery. They have even gone above and beyond by volunteering their time, resources, and expertise to assist with a special target market project on women. iModerate has their finger on the pulse of the research industry and consistently provides creative suggestions and solutions to enhance our current work. This ultimately allows us to provide our leadership with the strategic insights and opportunities that helps us to advance the common good.

Kristin Thomsen, Manager, Market Research, United Way Worldwide