Only one in five British people say they are willing to go to movie theaters when they first reopen in July, according to new research. However, three out of four say they would want to go back to cinemas eventually, but only after social distancing and rigorous cleaning is apparent.
U.K. cinema owners are pinning their hopes on blockbusters like Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” and Niki Caro’s “Mulan” to kick-start business, with one exhibitor referring to Nolan as “the savior of cinema,” during a webinar on Wednesday about the practicalities of reopening cinemas, organized by Comscore.
More than 1,200 movie theaters are now open worldwide, up 500% on the low point of about 200 theaters on April 25, Lucy Jones, executive director of Comscore Movies, said. This month and July will see many more territories opening their venues. Whereas theaters in England are expected to open on July 4, it is unclear when the rest of the U.K. will open their cinemas, although it is likely to be later in July. In the Republic of Ireland cinemas will open on Aug. 10.
In new market research carried out in the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland, commissioned by the Film Distributors’ Assn. and presented by Sharon Reid, director of marketing and partnerships at Cinema First, it was reported that only 19% of respondents would be happy to return to cinemas as soon as they open, while this response was higher among teenagers, parents of young children, and people of color, while the over 35s were more hesitant.
Seventy-five percent of cinemagoers in the survey said they would want to go back to cinemas, but not straightaway, and only after social distancing and rigorous cleaning is apparent. The majority, 55%, said they would return to their pre-COVID-19 levels of cinemagoing. Some 28% of the respondents said they would attend less regularly than pre-lockdown, although reassurance on health, social distancing and cleanliness may help drive increased attendance.
The report found a 65% increase in streaming during the lockdown and found indications this will be a long-term change as it is seen as cheap and convenient. Family content, such as “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Trolls World Tour,” has been particularly popular among transactional video-on-demand titles, although this TVOD business is likely to drop off once the lockdown ends.
Cinema comes third in the list of activities people miss most during lockdown, with 52% citing it, after visiting friends and family (67%), and restaurants (58%), but beating shopping (43%), and pubs (39%)…