Atom Tickets released the company’s latest survey results today, and the data shows that moviegoers are eager to return to the theater. With over 1,500 digital moviegoer respondents, 34% said they would return within a month; 25% would return immediately, 21% would wait for a vaccine; 18% would wait two or more months, and 1% said they won’t be returning. Overall, that shows 77% of Americans are ready to return, but they don’t agree on how soon.
Most theaters in the United States have been closed since March 2020. Since then, theaters have copped with mandated temporary closures, and they are working hard to comply with federal and state safety measures. With theaters closed, movie studios have rearranged their 2020 and 2021 movie slates, pushing most major releases to Fall 2020 or Spring 2021.
According to Atom Tickets, “When asked to identify the most important safety measure to make them feel confident about going back to a movie theater, having spaced seating in the theater auditorium was by far the most critical safety feature at 42.2% saying this was a key condition. The next most critical safety measure is heightened theater cleaning procedures at 21.14%, followed by staff and guests wearing masks at 14.36%. Only 6.41% of moviegoers said taking staff and guest temperature readings before screenings was the most important condition that must be met before they would feel comfortable returning.”
Contact-less retail is a popular solution during the health crisis. Over 88% of the people surveyed said that purchasing digital tickets from their own device and eliminating the need to interact with a cashier is an important safety measure. How you buy concessions could also change, with customers leaning into ordering ahead and picking up their items instead of waiting in crowded lines and being served directly over the counter. Of those who have never pre-ordered movie theater concessions, 61% said they are now likely to try it.
“Moviegoers are telling us that they miss the experience of going to the movies and they’re ready to get back, but that the experience needs to look slightly different than before,” said Matthew Bakal, chairman and co-founder of Atom Tickets. “We anticipate a rapid acceleration in digital ordering, just as we have seen in other industries, in order to reduce the amount of person-to-person interactions. We’re eager to resume being together with friends and family, but we want to do so responsibly. Atom is working with our theater partners to roll out spaced seat maps so that guests can see the steps being taken in order to provide a safe environment.”
Atom Tickets said the big movies that people are excited to see in a theater are Marvel Studios’ “Black Widow” and DCEU’s “Wonder Woman 1984,” taking 58% and 51% of votes respectively. Those films topped the next James Bond installment, “No Time to Die,” as well as Disney’s “Mulan,” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” which round out the top five. The company said that millennial moviegoers weighed in slightly differently, with John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place Part 2” coming in third position.
While people might say they are eager to return the theater, we will have to wait and see how many actually do buy tickets. July will test the waters with Russell Crowe’s “Unhinged” on July 1st, and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” on July 17th.
Opening theaters too early could expose more people to the virus, which would create a second wave of infections, which will ultimately make it harder for restaurants, retail markets, and theaters to convince people to return to their establishments in the future. Each industry is working with local and federal government to provide a safe space for patrons, but without proper testing and healthcare for workers, that may not be possible.
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