Summer is the season of the movie blockbuster, but this year’s big-budget flicks are playing amidst concern about the future of cinemas. With more homeowners installing home theatres and mobile devices offering recent-run films to anyone anywhere, some industry executives worry that going out to watch a movie will be a thing of the past. However, market research indicates those fears may be a bit premature. According to Environics Analytics’ PMB PRIZMC2Link, the 55 percent of Canadians who have moved from their couches to a movie theatre chair in the last three months remain a significant and lucrative market. But why do movie buffs forgo the comfort of a good drama at home for a trip out to the cinema? First, let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of moviegoers.
Demographically, movie buffs are a younger-than-average group. Adult moviegoers have an above-average likelihood of being 25 to 34 years old, married with young children, and well educated. Many live in newer housing—single-family homes as well as apartments—in urban and suburban neighbourhoods. And they tend to have above-average incomes—$100,087, 11 percent above the national average. Most people like a good movie so it’s no surprise that our PRIZMC2 segmentation system shows a wide range of lifestyle segments enjoys a night at the pictures. Segments like Cosmopolitan Elite (very wealthy, middle-aged and older families), Le Québécois Sportifs (lower-middle-class, middle-aged Quebec suburbanites), Rooms with a View (young, ethnic singles in urban high-rises) and Mini Van & Vin Rouge (younger, upper-middle-class Quebec families) are all highly likely to go to the movies. But while PRIZM’s lifestyle data show that hardcore filmgoers seem to like all kinds of movies, many Canadians prefer specific genres. For instance, comedies appeal to wealthier and more educated Canadians who are members of segments like Cosmopolitan Elite, Winner’s Circle (well-off, middle-aged exurban families) and Young Digerati (younger upscale urban trendsetters). Similarly, dramas appeal to Cosmopolitan Elite and Young Digerati, and family fare attracts a more downscale audience, like White Picket Fences (young, middle-income exurban families), First Nations Families (young and low-income aboriginal families) and Old World Style (multi-ethnic, middle-aged urban families).
Moviegoers are also doers. They enjoy aerobics, squash, tennis and soccer but shun activities like fishing, hunting and cross-country skiing. They have relatively low rates for engaging in any of these rugged outdoor pursuits, and in a Social Values survey listing 75 trends, “Attraction to Nature” scores dead last. It may be that avid moviegoers like their adventure on the big screen instead as 38.6 percent of Canadians went to an action movie in the last three months. And most folks like a good laugh—35.9 percent attended a comedy. Movie dramas appeal to 25.2 percent of the general population and family movies attract 16.1 percent of Canadians. Although movie-buffs are found all over the country, some CMAs score high with moviegoers. Of the top ten movie markets (at the CMA level) in Canada, six are located in Alberta: Calgary, Okotoks, Wood Buffalo, Lloydminster, Red Deer and Grande Prairie. Of course, other big cities are also filled with moviegoers—Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa, especially—but no province has more cities with a higher concentration of movie buffs than Alberta.
Although movie buffs may like the convenience of staying home and downloading a movie, there is an appeal to getting out and seeing a film on the big screen. First of all, it’s simple entertainment. What better place to have a first date than a moviehouse where a couple can bypass awkward small talk, but still have something to discuss after the film. And compared to other types of entertainment, movies are a deal. Going to an NHL game or rock concert can put a significant dent in the monthly household budget, whereas a family of four can go to a movie for under $50. Throw in the free parking at suburban theatres and going to a movie is a relatively inexpensive outing. It’s also a chance to escape from the challenges of everyday life. Escaping to a dark movie theatre allows people to immerse themselves in another world, collectively with other escapees, for a couple hours. How many young men have imagined themselves as the black-trench-coat-wearing, insomniac hacker hero, Neo, from “The Matrix”? Or what young women wouldn’t want to believe, for a moment, that they can overcome harrowing challenges in the wild like Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games”? No matter who the hero or heroine is, a trip from the real world to the movie-reel world can brighten anyone’s day. And that seductive aroma of popcorn helps, too.