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The Silver Screen Slump: Americans Say They're Going to the Movies Less Often

U.S. adults reflect on the best and worst parts of going to the movies; 7 in 10 see 3D movies as an excuse to charge more

NEW YORK, Jan. 10, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Going out to the movies once was, and for many still can be, an exciting night out. However, a new Harris Poll finds that while roughly two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults went to the movies at least once in 2013, just about the same percent (66%) say they're going to the movies less often now than a few years ago.

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These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,311 adults surveyed online between December 11 and 17, 2013 by Harris Interactive. (Full results, including data tables, can be found here)

Americans report going to an average of five movies in 2013, but likelihood to have gone to at least one goes down as age goes up (83% Echo Boomers, 73% Gen Xers, 59% Baby Boomers, 44% Matures). When asked whether they prefer watching movies at home or in a theater, or no preference, the majority say they prefer watching at home (57% total), while only two in ten (21%) prefer watching in a theater.

When asked to choose the main factors which drive them to see a movie in a theater, Americans' top selections include featuring a favorite actor or actress (32% among total Americans, 54% among those who prefer watching movies in a theater). A companion Harris Poll released today unveils Golden Globe nominee Tom Hanks as America's favorite movie star, while fellow nominee and Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence debuts on the list in the number three spot. Fan favorite Denzel Washington ranks second, dropping from his top spot on last year's list.

Best and worst aspects of a night at the movies 
When questioned about the best and worst things about going to the movies, there are a couple of clear frontrunners for each side of things:

  • When asked to select the one or two best things about going to the movies, nearly six in ten Americans selected the sound and picture quality of a movie on the big screen (58%), while nearly half (45%) cited the experience being a short escape from everyday life.
  • Of course, if one counts high prices or rude people among the stresses of everyday life, then a night at the movies may not be quite the escape it's cracked up to be: concession prices (62%) and rude moviegoers (56%) are the top selections - by a wide margin - as the worst things about going to the movies.

Cost has some additional implications on the movie going experience: seven in ten Americans (69%) believe 3D movies are just an excuse to charge more for tickets and nearly six in ten (58%) say they have snuck food into the movies.

  • Echo boomers are most likely to have snuck in food, while matures are least likely to have done so (69% Echo Boomers, 57% Gen Xers, 57% Baby Boomers, 36% Matures).
  • Additionally, women (61%) are more likely than men (54%) to have done so.

Two tickets, please 
Good word of mouth tied with favorite performer as a top reason people go to see a movie in the theater (32% among total Americans, 48% among those who prefer watching movies in a theater), followed by the movie being a sequel to or part of series that they love (30% and 45%, respectively), special effects (29% and 47%, respectively) and the overall theater experience (29% among total Americans, while at 59% this was the top driver among those who prefer to watch movies in a theater).

As for who they go to the movies with, movie night and date night appear to have a great deal of common ground, as spouse/significant other (55%) is the most-cited theatergoing company, followed by friends (32%) and children (21% among total, 51% among those with children in their household).

  • Women are more likely than men to go to the movies with friends (35% women, 29% men), children (25% women, 17% men) and siblings (12% women, 9% men).
  • Men, meanwhile, are more likely than women to go to the movies by themselves (19% men, 13% women).

Home movies 
In a separate line of questioning, Americans were asked about what the main ways are in which they watch movies at home, and while one advantage of watching at home is the convenience of watching what you want when you want to, watching live on TV is the top way of watching (60%), followed by:

  • Owned (47%) and rented (37%) DVD's and Blu-rays
  • On demand movies provided as part of a cable or satellite package (32%)
  • Through a subscription streaming service (31%)
  • Saved from a TV broadcast on a DVR or other recording device (28%)

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit the Harris Poll News Room.

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This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States December 11 and 17, 2013 among 2,311 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

Q905, 910, 915, 920, 925, 930, 935, 940

The Harris Poll® #2, January 10, 2014 
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Harris Poll Research Manager

About Harris Interactive  
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for The Harris Poll®, Harris offers proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research across a wide range of industries. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing a client's research investment. Serving clients worldwide through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help our clients stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
Harris Interactive, Inc.
[email protected]

SOURCE Harris Interactive

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