CinemaCon 2017: Millennials and Exhibition

Image courtesy NATO

Last summer, NATO launched our Young Members Committee (YMC). I’m happy to report that following the launch the YMC developed and conducted a survey focused on millennials that we’ll now be sharing with the entire membership. We surveyed a little over 2,000 millennials from diverse backgrounds in order to hear their thoughts on key moviegoing topics.

A few quick takeaways:

  • When asked a question about how often they go to the movies 17.9 percent of respondents answered “almost once a week” and 32.9 percent answered “once a month.” (Recent stats from a comScore survey are just as reassuring: for age 18–24, 27 percent of respondents answered that they saw three movies in theaters over the last two months, and 26 percent of respondents in the 25–34 age range also said three movies.)
  • When asked “Do you view time spent watching video on Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media platforms as being in direct competition to going to theaters?” the answers played out as follows:

56.6 percent: Rarely. They are two different experiences.

23.1 percent: Some of the time they compete, but some of the time they don’t.

20.3 percent: Definitely. There are a lot of entertainment options competing for my attention and sometimes they steal time from each other.

Members of the media like to take a sky-is-falling attitude when it comes to millennials and moviegoers. Yet when you scratch even a little bit below the surface of that assumption, you find out it’s just not true. Is piracy a problem with millennials? Absolutely. Do a lot of millennials skip trips to the movies because they feel a heavy financial burden? Sure. Is it fair to say that all millennials are souring on the theatrical experience? Definitely not.

YMC’s first survey would not have happened without valuable input over several rounds of revisions from the talented individuals on YMC’s Leadership Board (in alphabetical order): Brock Bagby (B&B Theatres), Jenny Jacobi (Alamo Drafthouse), Frank Martinez (Bow Tie Cinemas), Gurbani Marwah (Cineplex), Heather Morgan (AMC), Jonathan Penn (Cinemark), Garrett Rawson (Marcus Theatres), Matthew Sharpe (Southern Theatres), Mike Steinebach (Celebration! Cinema), and Rob Westerling (Regal).

The YMC also hosts webinars in order to further educate our members. The first webinar dealt with the topics of luxury seating and dine-in service, and it allowed Brock Bagby, Jenny Jacobi, Frank Martinez, and Mike Steinebach to share their first-hand experiences. As both luxury seating and dine-in services continue to expand, I’m sure the YMC will continue to address both topics.

Virtual reality is a topic that will come up a lot at CinemaCon this year, and it’s one that’s definitely in the wheelhouse of the YMC. Will virtual reality find a place in theaters or will it compete with theaters? That’s the core debate that’s going on right now. For every person who is bullish on VR, there is one who is highly skeptical.

The way that all people—not just millennials—interact with the world through technology is changing. According to a report by Goldwater Capital, Snapchat continues to gain ground when it comes to its share of total time spent on social apps. In a survey of 2,076 people, Goldwater found that Snapchat represents 11.1 percent of total time spent on social apps for respondents under 30, tying it with Instagram. YouTube is first with 24.6 percent, followed by Facebook with 22.8 percent. Twitter ranks near the bottom with only 5.3 percent. For the 30 and over crowd, Facebook accounts for a dominant 35.9 percent of total time, while only 4.4 percent goes to Twitter and 3.2 percent to Snapchat. In the splintered world of social apps, it’s important to understand where an audience for a given film is more likely to be. It can be hard, though, because it feels like preferences are shifting all the time.

Image courtesy NATO

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