Americans have enjoyed motion pictures for more than a century. Movies have gone from a novelty to entertainment to an art form. They helped us forget our troubles during the Great Depression and our fears through the war years that followed. And, to this day, people can leave the real world outside while concentrating on what’s happening on the screen. The question is where do motion pictures fit in today’s lifestyles?
A recent Rasmussen poll shows that 55% of Americans rarely or never go to the movies. This is true for the majority of all age groups except for those 40 to 49 where the number drops to 48%. Among those 65+ the negative response jumps to 63%.
Occasional movie attendance, which means less than once a month, is 34% for the total sample. Those 40 to 49 are highest with 42% and New Seniors are lowest at 28%. Regular theater goers, once a month or more, represent just 10% of all respondents.
So who is watching movies and where? About 44% of the people are viewing movies at home once a week or more. Another 41% are doing this occasionally, and only 14% say they rarely or never watch movies in their homes. The 30 to 39 age group is most likely to do this (57%). Those 65+ are least likely (34%).
Excluding those who rarely or never watch movies at home, 59% say they watch it on a premium cable channel or regular network TV. The number is lower for the youngest age groups, 18 to 29 (35%), and increases with age, 65+ (65%). Conversely, 35% of the total rent movies for home viewing. Nearly half (47%) of the youngest demographic do this, while only 16% of New Seniors are renting movies.
What people watch also varies significantly by age. Comedies are twice as popular as any other film genre, with 37% of respondents preferring them compared to 19% for dramas. With those 18 to 29 this type of movie was selected by 42% while among New Seniors the category was only 29%. On the other hand, the older group selected dramas first with 30%, and with the younger audiences it was on 8%
Action films ranked third overall at 15%. As might be expected it was highest with the young crowd at 20%, twice that of the older demographic. Science Fiction was fourth with 10%, but 22% of the 30 to 39 group selected it. Musicals barely made the list; however, 13% of New Seniors chose them.
The survey did not ask about watching movies online, on an iPad or a smart phone. But it’s safe to assume that this is a younger audience. The most important thing is there are cost effective ways to enjoy movies. But it is nice to go to the theater, buy some fresh popcorn and a soft drink then sit back as the lights dim and the curtains open to reveal characters that are literally and figuratively bigger than life. That’s the way to lose oneself in what’s playing on the screen. That’s what the movies are all about.