Who Goes to the Movies?

Who Goes to the Movies?


**Sources:  MPAA U.S./Canada Theatrical Market Statistics, Attendance Demographics for 2017, March 2018.


These figures apply to Americans and Canadians seeing movies in theaters in 2017, the last year for which statistics are available. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) will publish a new study of movie attendance in March 2019.

According to the MPAA, the population of the United States and Canada age two and over totaled 348.3 million people in 2017, with 76 percent, or 264.7 million, going to the movies at least once.

The movie industry sold 1.24 billion tickets in 2017, meaning that about 23.85 million people went to the movies each week in the U.S. and Canada, a significant drop from previous years.

All Moviegoers by Age Group, 2017







2-11 13% 13%
12-17 10% 8%
18-24 11% 9%
25-39 24% 21%
40-49 13% 13%
50-59 12% 14%
60+ 17% 22%


Of the 264.7 million who went to movies at least once in 2017, 34.41 million were age 2-11 and 26.47 million were age 12-17, while 29.12 million were age 18-24, 63.53 million were age 25-39, 34.41 million were age 40-49, 31.76 were age 50-59, and 45 million were age 60 or over.

Thus, about 60.88 million children and teenagers age 2-17 in the USA and Canada went to the movies at least once, which is slightly less than those aged 25-39.

Ultimately, however, the age groups that most likely include parents and their children and teenagers, age 2-49, make up 71% of all moviegoers, or 187.94 million people, but only 64% of the U.S./Canadian population, according to the MPAA.

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Most Frequent Moviegoers by Age Group, 2017







2-11 8% 13%
12-17 13% 8%
18-24 12% 9%
25-39 26% 21%
40-49 15% 13%
50-59 13% 14%
60+ 14% 22%


Moviegoers age 18-24 and 25-39 made up the bulk of frequent moviegoers in 2016, 38% percent, compared to 21% for frequent moviegoers aged 2-17, according to the chart titled “Most Frequent Moviegoers by Age Group.” However, youths aged 12-17 make up 13% of that 21%, or 62%.

The MPAA estimates about 12%, or 43 million people, in the United States and Canada are frequent moviegoers (go once a month or more). They also bought nearly half of the tickets (49%).

Also, frequent moviegoers are more likely to own more technology products (computers, smart phones, tablets, disc players, video game systems, video streaming devices) than the general population of adults age 18 and above.

However, occasional moviegoers (seeing anywhere from two to 11 movies per year) are just as likely to buy a ticket, 49% to 49% as frequent moviegoers.


Admissions by Rate of Moviegoing, 2017

Frequent (12+ a yr.) 49%
Occasional (2-11 a yr.) 49%
Infrequent (1 or less) 2%


Frequency of Moviegoing, 2017

Frequent (12+ a yr.) 12%
Occasional (2-11 a yr.) 53%
Infrequent (1 a yr. or so) 11%
Never 26%


About 26% of Americans and Canadians never went to see a movie in theaters in 2017, compared to 29% in 2016, 31% in 2015, 32% in 2014, 32% in 2013, 32% in 2012, 33% in 2011, 32% in 2010, and 26% in 2006.

Of those who do see movies, only 12% go 12 or more times each year, 53% see up to 11 movies and 11% go infrequently, about one movie each year.

Tickets Sold Among the Sexes, 2017

Males 51%
Females 49%


Similar to previous years, males bought slightly more tickets than females, 51% to 49%, though females total 51% of the population.

Tickets Sold by Ethnicity, 2017

White 55%, 682 million 61%, 212.46 million
Hispanic 23%, 285 million 18%, 62.69million
Black 12%, 149 million 12%, 41.80 million
Asian 7%, 86.8 million 6%, 20.90 million


Hispanics were more likely to buy a movie ticket in 2016 compared to their share of the population for ages 2 and above in the United States and Canada, 23% to 18%, respectively. Asians are also more likely to buy a movie ticket compared to their population, 7% to 6%.

Hispanics had the highest movie attendance per capita in 2017, 4.5 compared to 4.3 for Asians, , 4,2 for Other, 3.4 for blacks, and 3.2 for whites.

Ticket sales among whites in the U.S. and Canada increased slightly in 2017, accounting for 682 million tickets sold compared to 673 million in 2016, 726 million tickets sold in 2015, 686 million tickets in 2014, 724 million tickets in 2013, 760 million tickets in 2012, 750 million tickets in 2010, and 742 million tickets in 2011. They bought about 909 million tickets in 2007 and 845 million in 2009, according to previous MPAA reports.

Meanwhile, internationally, box office for all movies outside the U.S. and Canada reached $29.5 billion in 2017, up seven percent over 2016’s $27.4 billion total, compared to $27.3 billion in 2015, $26 billion in 2014, $25 billion in 2013, and 23.9 billion in 2012.

Asia Pacific remained the top region in international box office in 2017, totaling a whopping $16 billion, followed by $10.1 billion for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and $3.4 billion for Latin America.

Finally, China totaled $7.9 billion in box office revenue in 2017, compared to $6.6 billion in 2016, $6.8 billion in 2015, and $4.8 billion in 2014. Japan came in a distant second overseas, at $2 billion in 2017.


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