New AARP Research Finds Boomer Audience Not Aware of Many Key Theater Upgrades and Amenities


WASHINGTON, DC—Baby Boomers remain a significant part of the movie-going audience with over 70 percent of this population going to the movie theatre and experiencing its amenities. However, there are significant gaps in this audience’s awareness of new theatre offerings/attractions and premium experiences. A new study released today by AARP, “What Boomers Want: Insights into Cinema Experience Preferences and Behaviors,examines the specific preferences of movie-goers in an effort to reveal what Boomers want from their movie- going experience as well as reasons why they may not choose to go to theatres more frequently.

Despite theatre chains having made significant upgrades (such as premium seating, large screen format presentations, reserved ticketing and restaurant food options), Boomers are not currently taking full advantage of these offerings. With Boomers comprising about 74 million of the population this is a key audience that theatre owners need to make more aware of existing upgraded options to increase use of these amenities while in the theatre.

“From our survey we know Boomers are continuing to go to the movies frequently, but have not embraced all the efforts of the movie theaters to enhance the overall experience,” said Heather Nawrocki, Director, Editorial Promotions & Movies for Grownups Initiative, AARP. “If you can entice Boomers to try these services they are going to like it. Theatre owners have an opportunity to better address the movie-going needs of Boomers by marketing amenities and upgrades to this key demographic.”

While the study shows low engagement with many premium options those Boomer movie-goers that did try the amenities overwhelmingly “loved” or “liked” them. For example:  

  • Less than half of these Boomers were aware of sofa seating, while only 15 percent actually tried the premium upgrade. However, 76 percent who tried it “loved” or “liked” sofa seating.
  • Almost half of Boomers who go to the movies are not aware of food “brought to you” service and only 23 percent reported actually trying the option. However, 65 percent of Boomers who tried food services reported liking or loving it.

High Awareness of and Satisfaction with Theatre Amenities:

  • Of all premium options, large screen formats (IMAX, RPX, BigD) had the largest awareness among Boomers who go to the movies, with 60 percent of respondents aware of the format and nearly the same number (58 percent) have tried the large screen format. 90 percent of Boomers who tried this upgrade “loved” or “liked” large screen options.
  • While only 45 percent of these Boomer are aware of premium sound, 37 percent reported trying screenings with premium sound. Of those who tried this upgrade, 89 percent “loved” or “liked” it.

The study also shows key findings about Boomers experience with options that they “loved” or “liked”:

  • 56 percent of Boomers who see movies occasionally or more often know about recliner seats and 51 percent have tried them. Of those who have tried recliners 91 percent report “loving” or “liking” this feature.
  • Almost sixty percent of Boomers who go to the movies buy concessions most or every time, mainly traditional offerings of popcorn and sodas and are less aware (22 percent) of bar service and alcohol options offered inside the theatre.
    • When aware of bar offerings, over fifty percent purchase an alcoholic beverage every or most of the time.

Theatre owners have opportunities to drive Boomers to the theatre by marketing to them and focusing on discounts for off-peak show times and options for less crowded show times.

The majority of Boomers who go to the movies (77 percent) prefer to buy their tickets at the theatre. Additionally, only 28 percent are aware of reserved seating. Theatre owners have an opportunity to increase ticket sales by promoting advanced tickets and reserved seating to this audience.

A full copy of the research can be downloaded at

News Stories