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Box Office: The Key to Recovery for Studios Is to Attract the Largest Demographic – Families

Photo by Tyler Callahan via Unsplash

Box Office: The Key to Recovery for Studios Is to Attract the Largest Demographic – Families

By Movieguide® Staff

The research firm National Research Group conducted polls over the past 15 months, as domestic and global theaters experienced unprecedented closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If there’s hope for a box office bounce back, it lies in bringing families back to the theaters.

The NRG polls, along with other significant pollers like PostTrak, provide substantial data for exhibitors and studios working to gauge the audiences and their willingness to return to in-person experiences. 

“It’s still very early in the recovery process,” Paramount domestic distribution chief Chris Aronson said. “Where theaters have not been reopened for very long, they have been slow to get up to speed.”

The weekly polls central data-set to analyze Box Office recovery is demographics. According to NRG, males in the 17-to-34 age group are leading the way in ticket purchases.  

However, significant markets like L.A. still face regulations that have slowed recovery. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Texas, Arizona, and Utah remain hotspots for excited moviegoers. 

John Krasinki, director and actor in A QUIET PLACE PART II, insisted on releasing the sci-fi thriller sequel solely in theaters. So far, the risk has paid off, as the movie posted the highest-grossing opening weekend during the pandemic. 

Movieguide® previously reported on A QUIET PLACE PART II and its kick start of the domestic box office recovery: 

The box office could be on the mend after posting a successful Memorial Day weekend.

The four-day weekend marked a bright spot for North American theaters, which earned almost $100 million in ticket sales, the highest number since the pandemic began.

“Any studio executive’s belief that a movie belongs on streaming, that model is shattered with the numbers [from this weekend],” Joseph Masher, chief operating officer of Bow Tie Cinemas, told CNBC. “The profitability of [movies] is exclusive to the theater. We’ve proved it this weekend.”

The weekend saw John Krasinki’s A QUIET PLACE PART II take the top spot at the box office with $57 million. Krasinki insisted on a theatrical release for Paramount’s pro-family thriller. Although only 72% of theaters in the U.S. were open during the weekend, A QUIET PLACE PART II still posted impressive numbers.

“The demand for theatrical experiences has returned even as some movie theaters in the country continue to operate under certain restrictions,” JPMorgan analyst Alexia Quadrani said.

Despite A QUIET PLACE PART II’s success, over 25 percent of theaters in the U.S. remain closed, according to Comscore.

NRG’s recent June 3 survey found that over 70 percent of those surveyed are comfortable returning to theaters. In contrast, the same number was in the low 40s in January.  

“I feel very optimistic about what happened over Memorial Day weekend, both from a product view and the fact that as more of the public is vaccinated, moviegoing will continue to be embraced as one of the activities people return to as the world reopens,” CAA movie marketing strategist Megan Crawford said. “If nothing goes awry, the social skeptics will return.”

However, the data on demographics supports Movieguide®’s theory that the content of movies dictates their success; in the case of 2021, the potential for a total box office recovery. 

THR said that the low attendance numbers for children and the elderly were due to anxiety related to the pandemic.  

NRG’s Ethan Titelman said: “One of their major concerns can be taking their kids inside with relatively large groups of people.” 

However, with the most recent blockbuster releases—like THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT, CRUELLA, and A QUIET PLACE PART II—targeting older audiences, it follows that the most prominent demographic, families, were not fully tapped.  

Comscore’s Paul Dergarabedian noted: “The long-term success for movie theaters, however, will depend on attracting all demographics to the big screen.”

Movieguide® previously reported

One of the first movies to test a theatrical release was Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller TENANT. Released in Sept. 2020, TENANT’s performance was lackluster, with a domestic opening shy of $10 million. TENET had a light humanist worldview with violent action scenes. 

Fast forward to May 28, and John Krasinki’s sci-fi thriller A QUIET PLACE PART II earned nearly $50 million, posting the best ticket sales amid the pandemic. Uniquely, the QUIET PLACE sequel was the first exclusive theatrical release in 8 months.  

The drastic difference in success is undoubtedly affected by the number of open theaters and the roll-out of the vaccine. However, another factor has proven to remain valid throughout the list of pandemic releases: morally uplifting movies that offer hope sit atop the box office. 

Although TENET is not morally ambiguous, A QUIET PLACE PART II champions family, sacrifice, good conquering evil, and several other biblical themes.  

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