2010 American Movie-Goer Consumer Report

February 20, 2010 by Experian Marketing Services

With the 82nd Academy Awards® just around the corner and only days before final voting ballots are due back to accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, Experian Simmons is taking a close look at the American movie-going population.

In any given month, over 56 million adults (26% of the adult population) make a trip to the cinema to take in a film. Movie-going typically reaches its peak in mid-summer, and 2009 was no exception. Experian Simmons DataStreamSM reports that in July of last year, 32% of adults went to movies, the highest level observed at any point in the year. In October of the same year, the percentage of past-month adult cinema-goers had dropped to just 19%, the lowest point observed in all of 2009.

In this month’s Consumer Insights report, Experian Simmons sizes the movie-going audience, examines their receptivity to cinema ads—including pre-show commercials and product placement within films—online movie searches as well as Americans’ penchant for tuning into the Academy Awards. All data comes from the Simmons Summer 2009 National Consumer Study.

Two-thirds of the adult population have gone to the movies at least once in the last 6 months. Nearly half (46%) have been in the last 90 days and a quarter (26%) have been in the last month. Young adults are, as expected, more likely to go to the movies than older adults, but adults over 50 outnumber young adults when it comes to raw number of movie-goers as you will see in the following chart.

Movie goers young adults

Over 147 million individuals have gone to the movies at least once in the last 6 months. With 20.8 million adults ages 18 to 24 going to the movies in the last 6 months, this age group accounts for only 14% of the movie-going population. Adults ages 50 and over, on the other hand, account for 37% of the movie-going population with over 55 million adults in this age group going to the theater at least once in the last 6 months.

Movie goers older adults

Among all adults who had been to the movies at least once in the last 6 months, 68% have been at least once in the last 30 days. Many movie-goers (39%) have been only once in the last month and only 7% have been four or more times. Young adults ages 18 to 24 are much more likely than the average movie-goer to have been to the theater in the last month with 75% reporting having been at least once and 10% having been 4 times or more.

Movie going frecuently Young adults

Experian Simmons DataStreamSM reports similar trends in past 30 day movie-going for 2008 and 2009 with the peak for this behavior occurring in both years on almost the exact same date. During the week of July 22, 2009 32% of adults reported having been to the theater during the last 30 days and during the week of July 21, 2008, 29% reported going. Cinema Blockbusters that month in ’09 included Bruno and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. In July of ’08, Mama Mia and The Dark Knight were released.

When it comes to product placement in movies, frequent cinema-goers are most likely to respond. In fact, 41% of adults who went to the movies 4 or more times in the last 90 days are classified by the Simmons Movie Product Placement segmentation system as “Emulators,” those consumers who notice, remember and are driven to buy products placed into the context of a film. By comparison, only 28% of consumers who went to a movie only once in the last 90 days are Emulators.

Movie product placement

Forty-eight percent of Horror film fans say they often pay attention to commercials that show along with movie previews in movie theaters making them the most receptive to cinema advertisements followed by Romantic Comedy fans and Family movie fans. Only 39% of Foreign Language or Independent film fans say they pay attention to such ads.

Cinema advertising

Nearly a quarter of all movie-goers get movie information, reviews or show times online in any given month. Aside from the obvious movie sites, you are likely to find movie information seekers on these sites:

Online movie

Californians like foreign language and independent films, whereas New Englanders have more of a penchant for Comedies and Southerners are among the most likely to see Horror films. Below are the top 5 metro areas for finding adults who say they usually see the three selected movie genres when they go to the theater.

Movie genre by geography

One-in-seven American adults tuned into the last Academy Awards® ceremony on ABC, including many non-movie-goers. Nine percent of adults who had not been to the movies even once in the past six months tuned into the last awards show and ultimately comprised 19% of all 2009 Oscar® viewers. Still, the more frequently a consumer goes to the movies, the more likely he or she is to watch the annual Academy Awards® ceremony.

Academy Awards