Whip Media’s new survey finds that the vast majority of people in the US plan to return to theaters to watch movies once they reopen, mainly for big superhero and action films, while family-oriented movies are more likely to be viewed at home, fueling the growth of PVOD.

With theaters slowly starting to reopen later this year following over a year of being shut down due to the Coronavirus pandemic, people are hopeful to go back to the traditional experience of watching movies, yet some still remain skeptical and others prefer the new options provided by streaming platforms.

To find out more about people’s intentions in regards to movie watching, data analysis firm Whip Media conducted a survey to gauge how consumers feel about the summer movie experience in the US.

Summer Movies: Will consumers stream or go to the theater?

With many summer movies having same-day premieres in theaters and streaming platforms such as Disney+ Premier Access or HBO Max, the survey asked consumers who said they are interested in seeing the movie where they preferred to watch it.

The firm found that Marvel’s Black Widow is the movie that viewers most want to see in the theater. 68% said they would prefer to watch Black Widow in the theater versus 32% who plan to watch it at home. Black Widow is followed by Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (64%), F9 (63%), Suicide Squad (58%), and A Quiet Place II (55%) as the movies viewers most want to see in theaters.

The top titles that consumers said they plan to watch at home are family-oriented ones with Space Jam (69%), Cruella (64%), and Jungle Cruise (61%) topping the list.

Overall 90% of respondents said they plan to return to the movies. 28% are already going or ready to go as soon as theaters nearby open.

Returning to the theater: Comparing Summer 2021 vs. Summer 2020

Despite this enthusiasm to return to theaters, the widespread availability of movies at home has resulted in a fundamental shift.

Whip Media surveyed US consumers in both April 2021 and April 2020 to gauge their feelings about returning to theaters and found double the number of people said they will see movies in theaters less often than a year ago.

Among respondents who intend to return to theaters, in 2021, 24% of respondents plan to go to the theater less often, versus 12% in 2020. In 2021, 68% said they plan to go to the movies with the same frequency as before the pandemic, compared to 80% in 2020.

Among respondents who said they will go to the theater less, 67% said the top reason was they can get the movies they like on streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Disney+). This is 21% higher than when asked the same question in 2020.

In addition, 40% in 2021 said they can watch the movie as a PVOD release, versus 30% in 2020. And 52% said they will go less as they are concerned about health and safety (2021) vs. 69% in 2020.

The survey also found that families have fueled a 35% growth in PVOD over the last year, which studios are leveraging with key family-oriented titles released day-and-date this summer.

The findings are based on a survey of 1,904 consumers from April 28-29, 2021. Results have been balanced to reflect US census population gender and age (13-54).