Posts filed under “Film”

Study: Hollywood Movies Misfire with Core Male Teens

Media research firm OTX (Online Testing eXchange) released an interesting study about the decline in theatrical attendance this year. During Summer 2005, ticket revenues fell to $3.62 billion, their lowest
level since 2001, while the number of tickets sold — 541
million (est) — was the lowest level since 1997, according to box office
tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Drawing conclusions similar to our prior discussions (Why is Movie Theatre Revenue Attendance Declining?), OTX cites 3 major factors in the decline of the theatrical movie-going audience:

-Rising overall costs of going to movies;
-The improving home media experience;
-On-demand digital entertainment options.

While the quality of the films are not a key issue, quality combined with price is:  "Consumer attitudes about the quality of theatrical movies did not change. Most believed that the quality of movies remains relatively good. But the most commonly agreed to statement among consumers was that "with the price of tickets being so high, I’m more selective about which movies I see (in the
theater) than I used to be."

OTX’s study noted this perspective — costs and the increasing competition from in-home entertainment — was most prevalent within "the most prized movie going audience — males 13 to 24 years of age."  This past summer, "male moviegoers between the ages of 13 and 24 reported seeing on average about 24 percent fewer films than they did in 2003."

Why? Here are the prime factors:

– Lack of appealing, targeted content: In 2003, 60 percent of males under 25 said "there was an excellent selection of films to choose from." That number dropped to 35 percent in 2005. (That’s a huge fall off, and points to the Long Tail alternative)

– DVD consumption: In 2003 this group reported watching an average of 30 films on DVD/VHS. That number soared to 47 in 2005. (Greater than 50% increase — definitely Long Tail)

– Videogames and the Internet: This demographic also shows a rising interest in home-based entertainment options: 62 percent now regularly surf the web, 53 percent Instant Message with friends, and 53 percent are now playing console video games (Playstation, Xbox, Gamecube, etc.).

OTX: "The perception among young male moviegoers that there wasn’t much to see this year was a difficult barrier to overcome, regardless of price," said Vincent Bruzzese, Senior Vice President, Entertainment Research of OTX.  "But this demographic, more acutely than any other, is weighing the value of the in-theater movie experience compared to many other lower cost, more immediate and convenient entertainment options. And increasingly, young males are deciding to grab a DVD or video game to watch or play at home."

The study drilled down to identify specific causes for lagging movie attendance, including:

– Rising cost vs. value of movies: While the overall costs of going to the movies (ticket prices, concessions, babysitter, gas prices, etc.) have steadily increased, the quality of movies has remained relatively the same, according to OTX survey respondents. This suggests that the moviegoing experience has to be perceived as offering more for the entertainment dollar than other competitive options.

– Misperception of DVD window: Roughly 40 percent of all moviegoers believe it takes under two months for a movie to go from the theater to DVD, with close to 60 percent believing that less than three months is the average length of time. (Average length of time is actually about 4 months.)  This misperception, combined with concern about the cost of going to the movies, has lead many respondents to claim that it is not worth the money to go to the movies, when they feel it will be out on DVD within a very short period of time (30 percent feel this way).

– Preference for movie-viewing in the home growing: In 2003, 79 percent of people said that they prefer to see a new movie when it is released in theaters, versus only 59 percent in 2005. Those who prefer to wait until the movie is out on DVD/VHS (33 percent) or on TV (5 percent) recorded a 17 percentage point gain from 2003. The primary reason for watching a film on DVD is the convenience of being able to see a movie ‘whenever they want’ (66 percent).

Bottom line: Its not the Revenge of thge Flop; As we mentioned back in July, its the overpriced, mediocre experience that is increasingly keeping movie goers away; males teens in particular are emblematic of this trend.

Will movie theaters become the new radio? (i.e., lose their core audiences to alternative entertainment forms).

I must once again exhort theater owners: Wake up, before its too late!

Young Male Audience 24% Lower in Summer 2005 than Summer 2003;
Movies Now Battle Digital Entertainment Options to Attract Critical Demographic
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 10 /PRNewswire

Hollywood movies misfire with core audience–study
Mon Oct 10, 2005 6:31 PM ET

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Why is Movie Theatre Revenue Attendance Declining?

There’s been plenty of chatter about declining movie theatrical revenue attendance. You just know the MPAA is itching to tie this onto piracy somehow and thus get some favorable legislation.

Let’s nip this one in the bud, shall we? 5 6 7 factors are hurting theater attendance:

1) Social factors eroding theater environment (talking, cell phones, babies crying, etc.); 
2) Sacrificing long term relationships with theater-goers for the increase in short term profitability (commercials, no ushers, etc.);
3) Higher quality experience elsewhere (Home theater);
4) Declining quality of mainstream movies;
5) Easily available Long Tail content alternatives (Netflix, Amazon);
6) Price;
7) Demographics: Aging babyboomers simply go out to movies less.

While content quality has indeed worsened over the years, it shouldn’t be the main concern this Summer:  As of late, there have been a spate of movies which have been either well-reviewed (Batman Begins) or had good word-of-mouth (Wedding Crashers) or incredible special effects perfectly suited to the big screen (Revenge of the Sith or War of the Worlds).

So what else might be the source of declining theatrical fortunes?

Well, how about the movie theater-going experience itself? The adventure of heading to a cineplex is becoming a less and less pleasant form of entertainment. Many of the headaches involved have been painfully detailed by Bob Lefsetz’ readers (see their ordeals below).

Note that we are not even discussing content quality at this point.

Then there are the adverts. A recent L.A.Times article – Now playing: A glut of ads — points out that even studio executives were stunned by 15 minutes of commercials theatre goers had to endure after paying their 10 bucks:

"As head of production at New Line Cinema, Toby Emmerich is not your typical moviegoer. So when he wanted to see "War of the Worlds" the other night, his choice was between seeing the film in a theater with a tub of popcorn or watching it in a screening room at Jim Carrey’s house, with a private chef handling the culinary options. Despite this seemingly loaded deck, Emmerich opted for a real theater.

"I love seeing a movie with a big crowd," he says. "But I had no idea how many obnoxious ads I’d have to endure — it really drove me crazy. After sitting through about 15 minutes of ads, I turned to my wife and said, ‘Maybe we should’ve gone to Jim Carrey’s house after all.’ "

When DreamWorks marketing chief Terry Press took her young twins to see "Robots" this year, she said, "My own children turned to me and said, ‘Mommy, there are too many commercials!’ Now, when the lights go halfway down, I’m filled with dread. The whole uniqueness of the moviegoing experience is being eroded by all the endless ads."  (emphasis added)

So while the industry laments piracy, consider if you will why going to the theatre has become so much less enjoyable than watching DVD films on your own big screen in the comfort of your home theatre.   

The theatres have adapted Radio’s disasterous Hamburger Helper approach: Short term increases in profitability in exchange for alienating your core audience, who eventually seek out a more enjoyable substitute. Quite frankly, I’m astonished the film industry has (contractually)
allowed theatre owners to degrade their copyright protected product by
diminishing the experience so dramatically.

As Radio has so painfully learned, the end result is a big fat Buh-bye!

To a large degree, this is  a zero sum game: The theatre chains losses are Best Buys’ gain; Is it any surprise that high quality home sound systems and large screen TV sales have gone through a ginormous growth spurt over the past 5 years? Even as the lowest common denominator productions falter, Netflix (and its rivals) allow home theater owners to enjoy a Long Tail orgy of DVD content. 

Yo, theatre owners, when a segment of retail electronics called HOME THEATRE explodes in sales, that is your wake up call. You seem to have been oblivous, and missed the bell ringing.

Good luck getting the toothepaste back in the tube!


UPDATE: July 25, 2005 7:37pm
At Slate, Edward Jay Epstein explains the numbers behind decreased attendance on increased revenue. Fascinating stuff . . .


UPDATE II: August 30, 2005 12:07pm
A weekend NYT article, titled Summer Fading, Hollywood Sees Fizzle quotes an exec as blaming the quality of flicks:

"Part of this is the fact that the movies may not have lived up to the
expectations of the audience, not just in this year, but in years prior," said
Michael Lynton, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which had some flops
this summer, including the science fiction action movie "Stealth"
and the romantic comedy "Bewitched."
"Audiences have gotten smart to the marketing, and they can smell the good ones
from the bad ones at a distance."



Now Playing: A Glut Of Ads
The Big Picture
Patrick Goldstein
L. A. Times, July 12, 2005,1,35978.story

Lefstz Letter
June 5, 2005
(complete sourcing below)

Summer Fading, Hollywood Sees Fizzle
NYTimes, August 24, 2005


Continue to see Lefsetz’ readers critique of the theater experience . . .


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