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Movio finds blockbusters are attracting UK cinemagoers to cinemas, but providing a diversified offering remains essential


- The study highlights the huge appetite for diverse content and how certain key demographics remain underserved by the British market

Movio finds blockbusters are attracting UK cinemagoers to cinemas, but providing a diversified offering remains essential
No Time to Die by Cary Joji Fukunaga, which proved to have the biggest pulling power in terms of bringing audiences back to the movie theatres

What role are blockbusters playing in attracting British viewers back to movie theatres? What should the exhibition sector offer in order to make them visit cinemas more often? These are the two main questions being investigated by UK research firm Movio, which has recently published some interesting data on returning audiences. The study covers some 700,000 cinemagoers out of a total of around 7.5 million. The research’s data set, collected over the past 24 months, included direct point-of-sale transactions (offline, online, cash and credit cards), and profiled the viewers according to their loyalty, subscription types, online ticketing accounts, age and gender.

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The study defines “returning viewers” as those who visited theatres at least once after 1 September 2021 and does not include new visitors. It shows how blockbusters are playing a crucial role in attracting people back to cinemas, although they may not be sufficient to enable pre-pandemic levels to be achieved again. In detail, 52% of the first-visit returners chose to watch Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (released on 2 September, circa 40,000 moviegoers, 30.6% of whom visited theatres only once), No Time to Die [+see also:
film profile
(released on 30 September, circa 205,000 moviegoers, with 59.4% one-time visitors) and Spider-Man: No Way Home (released on 15 December, circa 109,000 moviegoers, with 78.7% one-time visitors).

The figures also demonstrated how the untapped audience segments can vary. One-time visitors to Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings and Spider-Man: No Way Home, for example, are concentrated on the 18-24 and 25-34 targets, whilst No Time to Die audiences aged 45+ struggled to return to cinemas.

For this reason, the study points out the importance of not overlooking “a diversified offer” to favour the emergence of a “long-tail” spectatorship, currently accounting for only around 27% of the viewers. The target segments that contribute the most to the development of such a “long tail” are 25-34, 35-44 and 65+.

All in all, the research finds that blockbusters are certainly attracting people back to cinemas, but the presence of a plentiful, diverse offering – which may include arthouse titles and European (co)-productions – is an essential condition to record better figures. In particular, infrequent and occasional moviegoers are drawn to blockbusters, but getting them to come back again is the big challenge. Moreover, while they overlap to some extent, not all blockbusters attract the same audiences in terms of demographics and appetite for diverse content, resulting in certain key demographics – such as families and older audiences – still remaining underserved.

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