CivicScience | It’s Hard to be Optimistic About Movie Theaters

Media & Entertainment

It’s Hard to be Optimistic About Movie Theaters

Image Credit: Photo by Donald Tong from Pexels

James Cameron might want to start writing a screenplay about movie theaters. There’s a giant iceberg coming.

With AMC and others tentatively opening theaters around the country in the coming weeks, the latest CivicScience data paints a bleak picture for the industry. Consumers appear extremely cautious about stepping back into the cinema.

A mere 21% of U.S. adults say they feel comfortable returning to a movie theater right now, with another 2% who would wait 2 to 3 more weeks. More than half of Americans – 55% – say it will be 6 months or more. 

What’s worse, is that even when the results are cut by movie-going frequency, just over 1 in 3 regular movie-goers (those who normally go monthly or more) say they would be comfortable seeing a movie in theaters within the next month. Forty-nine percent of those film-junkies say it will be 4 months or more, long after the critical summer movie season is over.  

To put this in perspective, people are more cautious about returning to the cinema than nearly every other activity CivicScience tracks. Forty-six percent are ready to return to stores now. Thirty-five percent are ready to return to restaurants. Only major public events like sports and concerts fare worse, barely, with 19% of U.S. adults saying they’re ready for that.

If theaters are looking for any strategy to lessen the damage, there are a few insights to be garnered from the group of eager and ready movie goers. For one, they’re younger. Thirty-four percent of Americans aged 18-24 say they would be ready to see a movie in theaters in the next month. The numbers plummet from there, particularly among parents – 75% of whom will worry about the safety of theaters for at least a month. That’s not good for family movies. 

Some movie genres could fare slightly better, relatively speaking. Fans of horror movies and action films are far more likely than fans of comedies or dramas to be comfortable in the movie theater this summer. 

Maybe James Cameron can team up with Steven King for that new screenplay. The summer box office could be pretty horrific.

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