Data Journalist

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, many Americans are practicing social distancing and avoiding excursions to restaurants, event venues, and movie theatres. Many theater chains, including AMC and Regal Cinemas, have announced plans to close all locations for the time being. 

But that doesn’t mean people aren’t watching the latest films. 

Several studios have announced plans to release their latest offerings on streaming services so viewers can watch them at home instead of waiting for delayed theatrical releases. And it may be a wise move: A YouGov Direct poll conducted on March 17 finds that 51 percent of respondents prefer to watch new release movies at home rather than in the theater. An additional 19 percent surveyed say they have no preference between watching movies at home vs. at the theater.

What does this mean for movie trailers? Viewers may be watching from the comfort of their couch rather than in a theater, but many will still want to see a trailer before making the decision of what to purchase and stream. Each week, we ask a group of YouGov Direct members to watch movie trailers, and then we report on what they say. We investigate how effective movie trailers are in persuading people to consider going to see a film in theaters, what users think about the content of the trailer, and how good or bad they expect the movie to be. Thousands of people are able to provide immediate feedback on movie trailers using the YouGov Direct platform.

Learn more about YouGov Direct and find YouGov Direct on the App Store and on Google Play.  

This week, the trailer for the romantic comedy “Hooking Up” especially grabbed potential viewers. This film follows a sex columnist (played by Brittany Snow) and a hopeless romantic (played by Sam Richardson) who is struggling after he gets dumped by his girlfriend and receives a grim health diagnosis. They meet under unusual circumstances but decide to hit the road together in search of healing.  



Before viewing the trailer, 8 percent of YouGov Direct users said that they were likely to see this movie in the next few weeks. After viewing the trailer, about one in five (19%) percent said they were somewhat or very likely to see “Hooking Up.” Slightly more (25%) respondents say that they would be likely to see this film if it were released immediately on a streaming service or paid download service, rather than in theaters.  

What did they like about the trailer? About three in 10 (31%) liked the story or theme, while 24 percent liked one or more of the characters and 21 percent were drawn to the actors.

Additional data from YouGov Signal suggests that Brittany Snow is generally viewed positively among Americans. Data collected this month finds that 60 percent of the online sentiment around Snow is positive.   

The week’s other wide-release film, “Phoenix Oregon,” also intrigued viewers. 

“Phoenix Oregon” tells the story of two middle-aged friends who decide to quit their jobs and restore an old bowling alley where they plan to sell the “world’s greatest pizza.”


Prior to seeing the trailer, 7 percent of YouGov Direct respondents said they were likely to see this film. After viewing the clip on the YouGov Direct App, 16 percent said they were likely to see it. Even more (24%) say they would be likely to see Phoenix Oregon if it were released immediately on a streaming service or paid download service instead of in theaters. 

These major films weren’t the only trailers to capture viewers this week. The limited-release film “Human Capital” piqued interest among potential audiences this week.

“Human Capital,” starring Marisa Tomei and Liev Schriber follows two families whose lives become intertwined through a hasty business deal and a tragic hit-and-run accident. 

Prior to seeing the trailer, 9 percent of YouGov Direct users said they were somewhat or very likely to see the film.

 

After seeing the trailer, 29 percent of respondents said they were likely to see this film when it hits theatres. The mysterious story in the trailer may have intrigued viewers: 37 percent say they liked the story or theme in the preview. Tomei and Schrieber, along with Peter Sarsgaard and Alex Wolff, also drew viewers in: 30 percent say they liked the actors in the trailer. 

Additional data from YouGov Signal suggests that between March 1 and March 19, 75 percent of the online conversation about Tomei has been positive. Similarly, 67 percent of online conversation about Schriber has also been positive during this time.   

Another limited-release trailer of the week also turned some heads. “The Infiltrators” tells the true story of young immigrants who are detained by Border Patrol and sent to a for-profit detention center. Interestingly, the film combines real documentary footage with re-enactments of the events inside the detention center.  

 

 

Before viewing the trailer, 7 percent of respondents said they were likely to see the film. But post-trailer viewing intention was much higher, with 23 percent saying they were likely to see this movie. Almost half (47%) of viewers said they liked the story or theme in the trailer.

The story about immigration and mistreatment by Border Patrol may appeal more to certain groups. About one-third (34%) of Democrats in this poll say they are likely to see “The Infiltrators”, while just 6 percent of Republicans surveyed say the same.  

YouGov Direct also asks respondents to tell us how good or bad they think a movie will be, based on the trailer. Human Capital comes out on top of this measure, with a score of 3.6 vs. a maximum score of 5.0 and a median score of 3.5  for all trailers tested to date.  

Finally, YouGov Direct also offers members the opportunity to look at viewing options in their area through Fandango

Roughly 2 percent of YouGov Direct users who saw the trailer for Human Capital clicked through to Fandango, compared to a benchmark of approximately 1 percent for the typical trailer tested on the platform.  

Related: 

 

Image: Getty

Methodology: Data is based on 4,000 interviews, including a minimum of 400 responses for each movie trailer tested. Interviews were conducted through the YouGov Direct app on February 19, 2020.

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