Ask the Audience poll sizes up moviegoers’ feelings about enhanced formats

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Ask the Audience

Today’s moviegoer has more choices than ever before when it comes to enhanced movie formats, and almost everyone has an opinion on which one reigns supreme. With so many cutting-edge options, it’s hard to remain neutral about what format truly creates the best movie experience. So, we decided to get to the bottom of this battle of technologies by asking the audience.

A full 76% of respondents said that enhanced formats make for a better moviegoing experience, with most agreeing that they enjoy the higher quality video and sound. Interestingly, however, it turns out that our panelists still choose the traditional 2D movie format over any of the enhanced technologies, with 36% saying they prefer a standard movie format. IMAX took second place with 30%, and sound-enhanced formats, such as Dolby Atmos, rounded out the top three with 16%. Women were significantly more likely to opt for a standard format, while men were 65% more likely to prefer IMAX than women.

So why do so many still opt to see a movie in a standard format? It turns out the answer is quite simple—money. 82% say the thing they dislike most about enhanced formats are the higher ticket prices. 57% said they are willing to pay an additional $5-$10 per ticket for an occasional upgrade, but 36% say no format currently available is worth the extra cost.

In some cases, moviegoers were interested in enhanced formats but don’t have access to them at their local theatre. 42% of respondents want to see a 4D theatre added to their nearby cinema, with another 26% crossing their fingers for a sound-enhanced auditorium. Panelists were also interested in the future of movie technology. 41% reported they can’t wait for the day they can enjoy a 3D movie without glasses, and 34% are counting down to the moment when we see panorama screens become prevalent in the industry.

Enhanced formats may still be hit or miss for the individual moviegoer, but the good news is that many do appreciate the technology and enjoy the experience. They just want to be able to enjoy it in a way that doesn’t break the bank. Exhibitors may want to consider adding incentives, such as combination packages that include concessions in the purchase or priority seating at a future showing, to help convince moviegoers to splurge on the pricier ticket. By finding creative ways to work around the “sticker shock” of an upgraded format ticket, theatres can stay current with the latest technologies that audiences value and continue to make their customers’ experience as enjoyable as possible.

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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. To submit a question, e-mail AskTheAudience@ncm.com with your name, theatre or company, contact information, and what you would like to ask the Behind the Screens panel.