Just how many Americans are champing at the bit to see the latest blockbusters on the big screen? Studios have held out hope that the end of shelter-in-place orders might release pent-up entertainment demand just as the summer tentpole season gets under way this weekend. However, Hollywood’s biggest media outlet Variety reports that few Americans will choose to go back to theaters if they have an alternative for seeing new releases.
Is the cinema model dead? And will it take Broadway and major sporting events with it?
Anxiety over health and safety in public spaces still greatly outweighs the desire to leave home, and that disparity has only gotten larger as the pandemic has unfolded. The results — from a survey of roughly 1,000 people in mid-May by sports and events analytics firm Performance Research, in partnership with Full Circle Research Co. — point to just how steep a climb the entertainment industry has in front of it to win back public perception that it’s safe to attend, and spend money on, public events again.
Take this answer to the question of whether respondents would rather see a first-run feature as a digital rental at home or in a movie theater, if both were available today: A whopping 70% say they are more likely to watch from their couch, while just 13% say they are more likely to watch at a local cinema (with 17% not sure). …
The top-line findings — especially in comparison with a similar Performance Research study conducted in mid-March — are equally stark. Even after the CDC and local governments say it’s safe to do so, 52% of respondents say they will attend fewer large public events, up from 44% in March, just days after the CDC declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic. Even more striking: This month, 60% of respondents say the idea of attending a big public event “will scare me for a long time,” up from 47% in March.
Across just about every major industry sector, respondents have grown more fearful about stepping into public spaces: 39% say they’ll attend major indoor concerts less often, up from 33% in March; 36% say they’ll attend theme parks less often, up from 26%; and 33% say they’ll attend theater and performing arts venues less often, up from 29%.
For Broadway productions, a new line of inquiry in the May study, the news is especially worrying: 51% of respondents say it will take a few months before they will attend a Broadway show in New York even after it’s deemed safe to do so, and 16% say they may never go again.