Almost Half of Moviegoers Not Returning to Theaters, Study Finds

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The motion picture industry still has a way to go to entice almost half of its pre-pandemic audience back into theaters, a new study from The Quorum found.

According to the study, in which more than 2,500 people who attended movies in theaters before the COVID-19 pandemic were interviewed, almost half said they were reluctant to go back to a theater to see a film due to three main factors: feeling safe from the virus, the price of tickets and concessions, and the overall theater experience.

Of the 2,528 surveyed, almost 10%, or 201 people, said they were not likely to go back to theaters; 29%, or 733 people, said they might return, and 13%, or 329 people, said they were ”reluctant” to return.

The other half, consisting of 824 people who were considered ”avid” moviegoers, have gone to the theater ”many times” during both the initial pandemic and the delta variant surge, and a group of 447 people who were ”infrequent” moviegoers has not changed their habits either way since the pandemic hit, according to the survey, which did not include a margin of error.

While the survey found that box-office revenue has increased during the pandemic’s recovery, it has not returned to pre-pandemic levels because of the groups less willing to go back.

”Theatrical [business] is at a crossroads,” the study said. ”Just as the studios are re-evaluating their marketing and distribution strategies in the wake of the disruption caused by the pandemic, theaters need to do the same.”

The study concluded that women were more likely to be more reluctant to return to theaters and have returned at the same rate as men have, creating more of an ”urgency” to attract them back to theaters.

Another conclusion is that the pandemic ended up ”amplifying” other ”pain” issues that stopped people from going to the movies before the pandemic, including safety in the theater, ticket and concession prices, and the experience.

The survey also found that 63% of people would feel better if the theater required proof of vaccination for those attending the movie, compared with 37% who would oppose it as either an infringement on their rights, or because it would not ease their fear of contracting the virus.

The good news for the industry is that some 70% of those surveyed said they want movie theaters to continue and would not want to see them vanish.

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