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It’s Showtime! Movie Theaters in the Spotlight

Ezra Carmel
March 30, 2023
It’s Showtime! Movie Theaters in the Spotlight

Our most recent white paper analyzes visitation data for three out-of-home entertainment categories – movie theaters, casinos, and “eatertainment” chains – to understand how the wider industry has changed over the past three years. Below is a taste of our findings. For the full report, click here

Movie Theaters: Blockbuster Potential

Long before the pandemic, online streaming of movies had grown into a massive industry. And when theaters closed in 2020, consumers got even more comfortable with watching movies from the couch. Several streaming platforms – including those owned by traditional studios – invested heavily in meeting consumers in their living rooms with large amounts of direct-to-streaming content. The sale of large screen TVs soared

But despite the ease of watching movies at home, foot traffic data indicates that there is still a strong demand for an in-theater experience. In 2022, multiple box-office hits drove foot traffic surges and increased revenue to theaters, with several movies including Minions: The Rise of Gru and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, leading to major Yo3Y visit peaks. 

The apparent demand for certain blockbusters could explain why movie studios are shifting their strategy away from a streaming-first approach to include more theatrical releases. It also gives an indication of how the sector could evolve by focusing its attention on the types of content that create an in-person draw versus those better consumed from the comfort of one’s own couch.

Has Movie Goers’ Behavior Changed?

The demand for blockbusters may reflect a change in audiences’ perspective on in-theater movies. Many post-pandemic consumers appear to consider movie theaters socializing destinations, and chains have responded by introducing social elements to certain showings, such as “margarita and a movie” night.

Analyzing visit times to AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas, and Cinemark reveals that between 2019 and 2022, the share of evening visits – between the hours of 6 PM and 1 AM – increased, while the percentage of earlier visits decreased. This relative rise in evening visits may be due to the increasingly social nature of a movie outing. The increase in share of evening visits also indicates that, despite the persistence of hybrid and remote work, many people are still likely working typical office hours and choosing to put off their fun until the end of the workday.

Out-Of-Home Entertainment in the New Normal

The out-of-home entertainment industry has evolved significantly in recent years. And while some changes can be attributed to the COVID lockdowns and social distancing, the pandemic also accelerated a shift in consumer behavior already underway pre-pandemic. 

And with inflation topping COVID as consumers’ primary concern, entertainment venues looking to regain visits need to make themselves particularly attractive to budget-strapped consumers. Many of the brands seeing success in this space have found ways to position themselves by offering consumers something extra – like a 3D movie along with gourmet snacks

For more insights into how entertainment chains are driving foot traffic by investing in creating an experience that can’t be replicated at home, read the rest of the white paper here.

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