LOS ANGELES – A total of 70 percent of consumers said they would prefer to see a first-run movie as a digital rental at home, compared to 13 percent who indicated they would be more likely to watch it at the theater, according to a new survey published Wednesday in the United States.
A total of 1,000 people were polled in mid-May for the study, which was conducted by sports and events analytics firm Performance Research, in partnership with Full Circle Research Co., and whose results appeared in American entertainment magazine Variety.
The survey took a broad look at future consumer behavior, with respondents asked about their willingness to visit theme parks and attend Broadway shows, concerts and other public events.
At a time of great uncertainty about how different industries will fare and how quickly the economy will rebound as the country emerges from a coronavirus crisis that caused the US unemployment rate to skyrocket to nearly 15 percent in April, the poll seemed to indicate that movie theaters may have a harder time convincing people to gather in a relatively small enclosed space.
Respondents were asked if they would “prefer to see a first-run movie you’re excited about as a digital rental at home or in a movie theater” provided that “costs are roughly the same” and both options are “available at the same time.”
Under that hypothetical scenario, a whopping 70 percent said they would be “more likely to watch at home,” just 13 percent said they would be “more likely to watch at a theater” and 17 percent said they were “not sure.”
(The poll, however, did not ask about people’s choices in the event there were a time gap between the theatrical and digital-rental releases. For example, the 2019 superhero mega-hit “Avengers: Endgame” premiered nationwide in US theaters on April 26 of that year but was not available for digital rental until more than three months later.)
Other survey results also offer evidence of the lingering effect of the coronavirus pandemic on consumer attitudes.
For example, 60 percent of those surveyed agreed with the affirmation that “attending a big event ‘will scare me for a long time,’” up from 44 percent in March.
More than half of respondents (52 percent) also said they will “attend fewer public events” even after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local governments say it is safe to do so, compared with 44 percent in March.
A total of 39 percent said they plan to attend major indoor concerts less frequently (up from 33 percent in March); 36 percent said they will visit theme parks less often (26 percent in March); and 33 percent said they will attend theater and performing arts venues less frequently (29 percent in March).
“Just as the country begins to open up there has been a swing toward increasing caution, with a majority of Americans clearly saying ‘not yet’ when it comes to attending large public events,” Jed Pearsall, president of Performance Research, was quoted as saying by Variety.
The survey also indicates that attendance at Broadway shows will be lower than before the coronavirus crisis, with 51 percent of respondents saying they will “go in a few months,” 33 percent indicating they will “go in a few weeks/right away” and 16 percent saying they “may never go.”