There’s nothing like the feeling of sitting down in a cinema with a bag of popcorn and a soda, and experiencing the premiere of a film with a crowd. At the same time, there’s nothing like the feeling of relaxing with a couple of close friends, or alone, and streaming a movie that was just released in the comforts of your home.
Both statements are correct, however, people are a little bit divided regarding which of the two they actually prefer. At Cutting Room Music, we got curious to see just how divided the preferences of movie lovers are in 2021, so we created a survey and asked all the right questions. With the whole COVID-19 situation still unfolding, it didn’t come as a surprise that, if they had the chance, 43% of Americans would prefer to pay a fee and watch the premiere of a movie in the comforts of their home, rather than going to the cinema.
Currently, some streaming services provide this “luxury,” but it’s still unclear if this trend is here to stay, or if it’s just a passing phase. With this survey, we tried to find out how the pandemic, frequent shelter-ins, the temporary closing of cinemas, and the rise of streaming services have affected the audience’s preference when it comes to movie premieres. The results we obtained are pretty interesting, and we’re excited to share them with you.
32% of Americans don’t like going to the cinema
With the pandemic still unfolding, some people are not yet comfortable enough to go to a movie theater. Even though 32% of movie lovers still choose to not go to the cinema, 20% say they enjoy seeing a flick at the movie theater at least once a month. 17% say they go to the cinema twice a month, while 16% go between 2 and 5 movies per month.
Overall, 37% of the respondents reported they watch at least 1 movie each month, at home or at the cinema. 25% said they watch between 5 and 10 movies each month, and 18% said they watch more than 15 movies each month. That’s a lot of movies!
72% of film lovers say straight-to-streaming-service releases affected their habit of going to the movies
The rise of streaming services had already started “threatening” theatrical releases even before the pandemic. A couple of years ago, companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime started hashing out numerous movies, exclusive to their platform. Slowly, people embraced the idea of watching a brand new movie straight from their living room. The pandemic only escalated this trend, and some theaters were even at the brink of closing in 2020.
Now, 72% of film lovers say straight-to-streaming-service movie releases affected people’s habits of going to the cinema. It’s quite a high percentage, and with more streaming companies deciding to release movies both at the cinema and on their platform at the same time, more and more people will choose to skip theatrical releases. Marvel’s Black Widow was one of the first release experiments of this year, being available to watch both at the cinema and on Disney+ starting July 9. Although it was well-received, backlash followed soon after.
Before the pandemic, 63% of film lovers went to the cinema more often
Before COVID, cinemas were usually packed, especially at big-budget releases. Things have changed since then, and now, movie theaters are slightly emptier. Some of this has to do with both the audience’s preference of watching movies at home, but also with ongoing indoor restrictions in some areas. Nonetheless, 63% of our respondents said they used to go to the cinema much more frequently a couple of years ago.
When asked what they prefer to do now when one of their highly anticipated movies releases, 30% of the survey respondents said they choose to see the film on opening weekend, or even the day of release. 25% said they prefer waiting for a digital release, so they can watch it in the comforts of their home.
If they had the chance, 43% of film enthusiasts would pay a fee to watch a movie premiere on a streaming service
Even though almost half of the survey respondents say they enjoy watching the premiere of a movie at home, 20% still prefer to go to the cinema. However, 37% would mix it up, and depending on the movie, they would watch it at home or at the movie theater.
We mentioned the release of Black Widow on Disney+ in one of the previous sections, however, Disney+ isn’t the only streaming service to have released a huge production both on its platform and at the cinema. In 2021, Warner Brothers decided to release their movies both on HBO MAX and in movie theaters—on the same date. 47% of the survey respondents said they’ve seen some HBO MAX premieres at home, and really enjoyed them.
Those who enjoy watching the premiere of a highly anticipated movie at home choose to do so because it’s more comfortable and convenient, it’s safer, they can take breaks whenever they want, and love the fact that other people don’t distract them.
On the flipside, cinema lovers enjoy the big screen, the sound effects, audience reactions and the overall atmosphere of the cinema.
Where would Americans watch 2021’s most anticipated movies?
When asked which movies are they most excited about in the last months of 2021, the respondents said they can’t wait to see Spider-Man: No Way Home, The Matrix Resurrections, No Time To Die and DUNE.
Although most of the survey suggests that people would prefer watching movie premieres at home, huge blockbusters can still pack cinemas for multiple weeks and weekends. When asked where would our respondents see the upcoming Fall/Winter blockbusters, 57% said they would go to the cinema, while 43% would watch the films at home.
When it comes to streaming platforms, 44% say their top choice is Netflix, 22% prefer Amazon Prime, 13% like HBO MAX and 12% enjoy Hulu.
There’s no doubt the pandemic has almost completely altered the habits of movie lovers. Most people nowadays prefer to see films at home, and if given the opportunity, they would even pay a fee for the chance of watching the premiere of a movie from the comforts of their couch. However, huge blockbuster releases still have the power to persuade people to the cinema. Although streaming services are changing the game, it’s safe to say that cinemas aren’t closing anytime soon; it’s just that a few seats might stay empty.
The survey was created with Google Forms, and distributed with Pollfish in the United States.