January movie releases: Which title is most likely to draw a crowd to the theater?

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
January 04, 2022, 3:41 PM GMT+0

January is seen as a “dump month” for the movie theaters, a time when expectations for releases are low because of – among other reasons – the holiday spending hangover has set in. This year, COVID-19 has yet again added to the forces working against major theater releases, as renewed concern spreads because of the omicron variant. 

Despite all that, a healthy proportion of Americans are keen to see the biggest releases of January. In fact, America’s intentions to see the upcoming release of the 355 is on par with Spider-Man: No Way Home, one of the major December theatrical releases. 

YouGov Direct asks a group of its members to watch movie trailers. We then report on what they say. YouGov Direct’s surveys investigate how effective movie trailers are in persuading people to consider seeing a film and provides insight into which releases are most likely to get Americans to the theaters, rather than wait to stream later.

The 355, the action/spy blockbuster starring Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, Diane Kruger and Lupita Nyong'o, appears to be the biggest theatrical draw for January, with 19% of respondents indicating they’d prefer to watch the movie immediately in a theater after watching the trailer. The all-female-led spy flick was initially scheduled to be released last year but was delayed because of the pandemic. 

Morbius, another COVID-delayed title, is also getting Americans excited with 17% of respondents voicing interest in seeing it in theaters. The latest theatrical release in the Spider-Man universe stars Jared Leto and will eventually land on Netflix and Disney+. 

Paramount hopes to capitalize on America’s nostalgia for the 90s with a 2022 reboot of the classic Wes Craven title Scream. Many of the original (and surviving) cast is back, including Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courney Cox. Our survey data shows 9% are keen to get themselves to a theater to watch the latest entry in the franchise, while 18% say they’re willing to wait until it lands on a streaming service.  

January is shaping up to be a challenging month that will be tough to predict as the omicron variant takes hold around the country. In the latest example of last-minute strategy changes, the Ben Afleck-led thriller Deep Water was pulled from its January theatrical release in mid-December after several delays. 

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Methodology: For each film referenced, YouGov polled 400 US adults online on December 16 – 17, 2021. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, political affiliation, and ethnicity. Learn more about YouGov Direct.

Image: Universal