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Theatergoers Eager To Return Even As PVOD Carves Out A Niche – UTA Study

With movie theaters in a nail-biting waiting game to reopen and films trickling on demand, a new study shows there’s room for both as most once-frequent moviegoers are eager to return. Face masks and hand washing stations would make them feel most secure when they do.

The study by UTA IQ, United Talent Agency’s data and analytics group, and market research platform Suzy, found 73% of fans are excited about getting back to theaters. It polled 1,000 frequent filmgoers – people who went to at least one movie a week — on June 26 and July 1.

The numbers look positive for theaters, but maybe not fantastic, as about one in five (19%) who have paid to watch recent PVOD releases say they will watch new films exclusively on demand. Some 44% of respondents who have paid to watch at least one of the five PVOD films available at home during the pandemic (Trolls World Tour, Scoob!, The High Note, The King of Staten Island and Irresistible) said they would watch an upcoming release both ways even after theaters re-open safely.

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However, nearly half of respondents (45%) would wait as long as is necessary to see one of the following 15 highly-anticipated films in a theater: Black Widow, Candyman, The Conjuring 3, Connected, Free Guy, The French Dispatch, Halloween Kills, The King’s Man, Mulan, No Time To Die, A Quiet Place Part II, Soul, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, Tenet, and Wonder Woman: 1984. Another 39% of respondents say they would wait until the end of 2020 before considering buying or renting these films for viewing at home. And 16% preferred to pay for these films right now as opposed to waiting for a cinema.

Some 52% of respondents interested in these films say they would pay more than $20 to see them. Nearly a third (28%), say they would pay more than $25; and, about one in seven (14%) say they would be willing to pay more than $30.

Called “Film Fans Win When Theatrical and PVOD Thrive,” the survey is one of the many attempts to analyze the current state of movies during the COVID-19 pandemic as war of sorts has erupted over the post-pandemic movie world order — most publicly between that nation’s largest exhibitor AMC Entertainment and NBC Universal. AMC threatened not to show Universal films.

Studios have promised that they need big-budget films to go theatrical but indicated they may revisit PVOD models for smaller titles.

The other melee, last month, was over masks as some chains announced plans to reopen without making them mandatory for customers, then switched course after a public outcry. It appears to be the right call because 75% of respondents said masks on workers and patrons would make them feel more secure. Nearly 80% said the same of hand washing/hand sanitizing stations.

Generally, disinfecting measures — from frequently cleaning high traffic areas (77%), to disinfecting seats (73%), to disposable and washable seat covers (72%), to improved air filtration (70%), got high marks.

On social distancing precautions, some 72% said seats six feet apart would make them feel better, as would limiting theater capacity and temperature checks (69%); physical barriers at concessions (66%); staggered arrivals (65%); and preordering food (62%). That last figure, lower than the others, may not bode well for crucial concession sales.

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