The 21st-Century Moviegoer: Why theatrical audiences are today’s most devoted consumers

Cinemas Features

In today’s entertainment landscape, demand for blockbusters is at an all-time high. The promise of a successful global box-office return is mouthwatering to both distributors and exhibitors alike, a trend that is revealed by the rise of studio tentpoles with budgets averaging over $100 million. The key to the continued success of these projects and the sustainability of the theatrical window lies with the cinema’s most influential and dedicated audience—the 21st-century moviegoer.

Today’s moviegoer is surely the most devoted consumer in the contemporary media landscape, as the decision to attend a cinema is virtually unparalleled. It involves leaving the home, traveling to the nearest theatre, purchasing a ticket and disengaging from your phone, work, social media and virtually every distraction from the outside world for an average of two hours. This dedication makes moviegoers the Most Valuable Players of the entertainment marketplace, as well as the driving force behind box-office success.

The American entertainment consumer has evolved through many cycles of media consumption, but their commitment to the theatrical window continues to fuel the entertainment industry with an average of over 100 million admissions at the cinema monthly. That is double the amount of people who fly domestically each month nationwide—and more people are attending the cinema on a monthly basis than people who visit theme parks and attend all major sporting events combined. Today’s moviegoers demonstrate key performance indicators, advanced consumer behaviors and engagement profiles that major global brands vigorously aim to attract. Forty-six percent of frequent moviegoers are between the ages of 18 and 49 and have an average income of over $75,000 per year, making them a highly accessible audience for brands, and one that the theatrical window continues to capture and entertain time and time again.

When a moviegoer makes the decision to disconnect from the outside world and come to the movies, they are primed and ready to engage with whatever is being offered by the content creator and exhibitor. In a world where dual-screen viewing has become the norm, the theatrical window offers a unique way to connect with media consumers on an influential and massive scale. On average, over the past five years there were 75 movies a year achieving a minimum of five million in attendance. That’s a base of five million devoted, engaged, plugged-in eyeballs per film.

Moviegoers demand epic content producing explosions so big and so loud that seeing and hearing them on your new television or tablet just won't cut it. Moviegoers want to hear and feel the infectious roar of an audience, the kind that can only be achieved when you’re one of two hundred strangers laughing or gasping together in a crowded theatre. People crave this physical experience.

To enhance that experience, modern cinemas are becoming bigger and more extravagant, with the inclusion of bars, lounges and restaurants where people can gather and socialize. The majority of the 40,000 screens in the U.S. are located at theatres having eight or more screens, and those with seven or fewer screens are in decline. These larger, more commercial theatres represent the dominant form of box-office spending and highlight the importance of including added value for moviegoers.

Now, imagine if distributors could reach out and create a unique brand experience for their audiences. With access to a thoroughly engaged audience, it would be a missed opportunity for distributors and exhibitors to not offer additional content for their patrons. Most major studio tentpole films have over 50 hours of footage that is never used. Some are translated into bonus features, but most is left on the cutting-room floor. In today’s digital age of augmented and virtual reality, we can put this content to great use in exciting ways that connect audiences with their favorite franchises and brands.Then, using smart data-tracking tools that can analyze the data collected through these content vehicles, we can enhance our understanding of the habits, engagement and overall loyalty of consumers to a higher degree than ever before. Now, theatre circuits and studios can learn even more about what their consumers want and how to enhance their cinema-going experience.

The premiere theatrical window has become a shining beacon of spectacle for the entire industry, and in order to keep moviegoers engaged and excited, it is our collective responsibility to provide an enriched, magical and unmatched experience. By keeping consumers engaged after they leave the cinema, we constantly remind them of the cinema experience and its foundational connection to movies.

Let’s give moviegoers more bang for their buck and utilize the exclusive window to connect directly with audiences in new and exciting ways. Instead of building walls between windows, let’s leave a trail of breadcrumbs that starts with theatrical and leads all the way to home entertainment. By introducing new ways for the industry to engage with their audience, we hope to build deeper connections with the most important players in the business—21st-century moviegoers.With growing market demands, technology accelerating at the speed of light, and shortened consumer attention spans, it’s clear that 2017 will be one for the books.

Concourse Media is a multi-faceted entertainment group which manages three separate divisions: the film distribution company Concourse Film Trade, the creative marketing and audience engagement firm I&Co, and the moviegoer experience division Concourse Cinema Ventures. James Andrew Felts and Matthew Shreder have sold over 30 feature films, including The Little Hours, starring Alison Brie, Dave Franco, Kate Micucci, Aubrey Plaza, John C Reilly and Molly Shannon; Safelight, starring Juno Temple and Evan Peters; and the acclaimed documentary Harry & Snowman.