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MPA Study Finds Theatrical Experience Beats Home Viewing

10 Mar, 2006 By: John Latchem

Eight in 10 moviegoers are satisfied with the theatrical experience, according to a worldwide market research report by the Motion Picture Association.

The survey found 81% were satisfied at the last movie they attended, calling it “time and money well spent”; 15% found they should have waited for the DVD.

Overall, 69% of movie fans prefer seeing a movie in theaters, compared to 31% at home.

Young men in the study were most likely to prefer the theatrical experience. The study found 81% of men under 25 said the theater was the ultimate movie-watching experience compared with watching at home; 71% of men 25 and older preferred the theater.

Women in the study were more partial to home viewing. Among women, those under 25 preferred staying home 31% of the time, compared to 36% for their 25-and-older counterparts.

Still, moviegoers are big DVD buyers. About 42% of moviegoers plan to buy the DVD of the last movie they saw, with 56% of these DVD fans making the decision immediately after leaving the theater. This means one-quarter of all moviegoers walk out of the theater wanting to buy the DVD, which would seem to lend credence to a proposed simultaneous release strategy of exhibiting a film theatrically and selling the DVD in the lobby.

The MPA study also found avid technology users were more likely to see a movie in theaters. One in five moviegoers who reported seeing at least one movie in 2005 use four or more entertainment technologies (DVD player, premium cable, VOD, online subscription service, DVR, video game system, etc.). That 20% of moviegoers sees an average of 8.2 movies per year. Meanwhile, other moviegoers averaged 6.2 movies per year.

The top tech item in both camps was a DVD player, owned by 91% of avid technology using moviegoers compared to 76% for the lower-tech household group. Big screen TVs were owned by 82% of avids compared to 21% of their counterparts.

More new films were released theatrically in 2005 than in history, with 549 new films, compared to 520 in 2004.

But the 2005 domestic box office totaled only $8.99 billion, its lowest level since 2001, down from $9.54 billion in 2004, a 5.7% drop. Even removing 2004's The Passion of the Christ, which drew upon an audience that traditionally does not go to theaters, from the equation, the box office still was down 2%.

Worldwide numbers were more upbeat. While 2005 totals fell 7.9% from 2004, the $23.24 billion earned last year was up 14% from 2003 and up 46% from 2000.

U.S. theater admissions fell to 1.4 billion, down 8.7% from 2004 and at their lowest level since 1997.

The average domestic ticket price rose from $5.39 in 2000 to $6.41 last year.

The MPA also reported a “blockbuster gap,” in that eight films surpassed the $200 million benchmark in 2005, compared to five in 2004, but those films that did not reach $200 million underperformed compared to 2004.

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