Ask the Audience: Movie Theatre Renovations

Ask the Audience

Ask the Audience is a monthly feature from Film Journal International and National CineMedia (NCM) that allows you to ask an audience of 5,000 frequent moviegoers, known as NCM’s Behind the Screens panel, the pressing questions of our industry.

We all know that the success of our businesses revolves around the quality of the moviegoing experience. To keep up with consumers’ ever-growing expectations, as well as the competition, more and more exhibitors are considering whether a renovation that would include improvements such as more comfortable seating, advanced sound systems, and newly upgraded movie formats (i.e. 3D, 4D), is a smart investment. When we asked the audience, it should come as no surprise that people were significantly more likely to give lower scores to describe their local theatre’s design, comfort, and technology if it had not been recently renovated. However, over half of our Behind the Screens panel reported that their local theatre had been renovated within the last five years, so we decided to explore how those moviegoers feel about the renovations and find out what improvements they find most enticing. We asked the audience.

Out of the panelists whose local movie theatre had been renovated, 81% felt that the updates were beneficial, and over a quarter of people went the movies even more after the renovation. If you’re currently weighing whether to stay open during the renovation or temporarily close to get the construction completed on a faster timeline, you may be interested to know that 70% of the panelists’ theatres did remain open during renovation. The consensus from the audience was that theatre renovations do not disrupt the daily moviegoing experience, with 84% of our respondents saying that the construction did not bother them and 71% saying that they went to the movie theatre just as often while the theatre was under construction.

When it comes to a renovation wish list, the top three reasons that consumers are interested in having their movie theatre updated are a desire for a better sound system (93%), a better movie screen (93%), and luxury seating (81%). Additionally, 72% of our panelists consider amenities, such as concession stands, lobby seating areas, or restrooms, to be as important as ticket cost when choosing which theatre to attend. Of those panelists whose theatres had been recently renovated, 68% stated that they are significantly more likely to consider such theatre amenities as “Very Important.”

So, while renovations can be expensive and time-consuming, they could pay off big time for your business.  At the very least, they should not have a negative impact on how frequently your customers visit your theatre during the process. At best, the improvements you invest in today will play a large role in how positively audiences rate their moviegoing experience at your theatre, which will keep them coming back for years to come.

To submit a question, email with your name, company, contact information, and what you would like to ask the Behind the Screens panel.