Going to the movies: A look at how consumers feel in three global markets

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
February 26, 2021, 4:32 PM UTC

New YouGov data shows how comfortable consumers are going to the movies, and how Hollywood’s shift to a video-on-demand business model may affect cinema attendance in a post-COVID-19 world.

Of the three markets where we conducted this research, worry about safety at the movies is highest in America. About two in five (37%) of Americans say they’re worried, compared to 33% of Brits, and 21% of Australians. Yet Americans are also most likely to say they’ve missed going to the cinema, compared to the other two markets.

Of course, restrictions differ among these regions. In most parts of the US, movie theaters are open with limited capacity. The UK remains under a strict lockdown and therefore cinemas are not allowed to open. In Australia, cinemas have been open for several months as COVID-19 case counts in the area have remained low.

Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, movie studios have opted to release some of their biggest blockbusters on streaming services. In 2020, “Wonder Woman 1984” debuted in the US on HBO Max, and Disney launched its “Mulan” reboot on its Disney+ platform.

How Hollywood is dealing with the tumult of the pandemic now may have a lasting impact on how studios will find audiences in the future. Between 20% and 27% of consumers in the US, UK, and Australia say they use streaming services and therefore are less likely to head to a cineplex.

Among those who love going to the cinema, those figures drop to between 13%, 17% and 22% in the UK, Australia and the US respectively.

Yet cinema isn’t dead, and YouGov’s research provides insight into how venues can put patrons at ease.

Looking specifically at those who are worried about going to the cinema, between 17% and 23% of consumers in the US, the UK, and Australia say they’re happy to go to the cinema if there are social distancing and mask rules in place. It appears mask rules remain important to the consumer. In the UK, just 14% of worried consumers would be happy to go to the cinema if it had social distancing rules, but no mask rules. That number drops to 9% in Australia and a marginal 2% in the US.

Overall, one in five Americans (20%) and a quarter of Brits (25%) say they probably won’t go to the movies until they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine. Only 9% of Australians agree. One in five (20%) of consumers in the US say they would encourage family members to stay away from cinemas, while 17% of Brits and 6% of Australians say they would do so.

Methodology: In the United States, YouGov polled 1,000 US adults online on February 22, 2021 between 5 p.m. ET and 6:07 p.m. ET. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, political affiliation, and ethnicity. Results are nationally representative of adults in the United States. The margin of error is 4.2% for the overall sample. In Great Britain, YouGov polled 1,000 YouGov Direct users on February 22, 2021 between 11:33 a.m. ET and 1:11 p.m. ET. The sample is weighted for gender and age but not nationally representative. The margin of error is 3.4% for the overall sample. In Australia, YouGov polled 1,000 YouGov Direct users on February 23, 2021 between 12:30 a.m. ET and 6:20 p.m. ET. The sample is weighted for gender and age but not nationally representative. The margin of error is 3.1% for the overall sample.

Image: Getty