Biometric Study Examines the Impact of the In-Theater Experience vs. Home Viewing


BostonOctober 22, 2019: Viewers in a movie theater are more likely to have a better overall experience than those in a home setting, according to a study conducted for Boston-based circuit Showcase Cinemas.

The 2019 Showcase Cinemas Theater V Home Biometrics Study examined how excited moviegoers felt while watching a movie in a movie theater versus a home setting, and also how much more satisfied study participants were with key aspects of watching a movie in-cinema versus a home environment. These included satisfaction differences in picture clarity (98% theater/53% home), sound quality (93% theater/33% home), screen size (95% theater/25% home), seating comfort (88% theater/10% home), and atmosphere (85% theater/28% home).

“Those of us in the film exhibition industry have always said that the experience of viewing a movie in a theater was elevated and better than other forms of movie viewing—now we finally have the scientific proof,” says Mark Malinowski, vice president of global marketing for Showcase Cinemas. “Just as important, in this age of multiple-platform content consumption, the study proves that viewers of a movie in a theater experience a significantly higher level of excitement than those who view a movie in a home setting.”

Biometrics testing was conducted at Showcase Cinemas XPlus theater in Revere, Mass. on August 26, 2019, and at Schlesinger Associates in Boston, Mass. on August 27, 2019. The Showcase Cinemas XPlus screening included 40 study participants ages 18 to 44, along with an additional audience of approximately 145 people to represent a full-capacity film screening. The home simulation setting included 40 people who, in groups, watched the same film in a simulated home environment. The home setting was created utilizing couches and a television at a research facility. Screen size, lighting, seating position, and volume were controlled to closely parallel a home viewing experience.

Study participants in both groups screened Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and had not seen the film previously. At each location, 40 study participants responded to the following: 

* Neuro-physiological sensors were placed on their hand, wrist and collarbone. Baseline measures were recorded prior to the movie exposure. The following measures were collected: heart rate (attention measure) and skin conductance (neuro-physiological excitement measure)

* The movie, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, was chosen because it could play well whether at home or in theater and would not favor one setting or the other, according to analysts.

* Following the movie, participants completed an online survey that included questions regarding satisfaction with the movie-viewing experience, viewing preferences, movie evaluation, and likelihood to talk to others about the movie.

“‘The Showcase Cinemas Theater Vs Home Biometric Study provides a unique lens on how the immersive, large-format theater experience can be much more engaging and rewarding to moviegoers,” says Michelle Niedziela, VP of research and innovation at HCD Research, the third-party consultancy conducting the biometric tests. “In-theater viewing has shown to be more emotionally and neuro-physiologically engaging for moviegoers, and there’s a lot of technology and creature comforts that theater companies like Showcase Cinemas have built around the experience to elicit a strong physiological and neurological response. This research shows how impactful that can be on the movie viewer experience.”

For study subjects viewing the film in-theater, levels of neurological excitement increased versus those in the home setting. Biometric arousal results demonstrated that theater viewers were significantly more excited for the beginning and closing of the film, the study noted.

When asked of both movie-theater and home viewing study participants, a much larger percentage of respondents were satisfied by seeing a movie in a theater when it came to picture clarity, screen size, sound quality, atmosphere, and even seat comfort.  Additionally, the report found that theater attendees had a significantly better movie-watching experience than those in a home setting, with 90% of the theater respondents rating the experience “excellent or very good” versus 55% of the home setting subjects.

The study also indicated that the environment in which a film is screened greatly affects what a viewer feels about the actual movie itself.  Movie theater viewers thought Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was a better movie than those who viewed the same film in a home setting. Those in the theater setting more commonly thought the movie was dramatic, intense and high-quality. Overall, the majority of all respondents (average of 81% of theater and home viewers) felt that it would be a better experience to watch the movie in a theater setting as opposed to at home. A greater percentage of study participants who viewed the movie in-theater felt that it held their attention (73%), compared to those who viewed the same film in a home setting (50%).

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