Millenials and Movies Misunderstood, Movio Study Says

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Wed, 06/22/2016 - 14:09 -- Nick Dager

Millenials make up a third of all movie-ticket buyers, a Movio study says.Conventional wisdom in the film industry suggests that Millennials or Gen Y, now the world's largest living generation and entering their prime spending years, are generally less interested in moviegoing than previous generations. But in a granular analysis of recent data, Movio's whitepaper, Understanding Millennial Moviegoers: A Data-Driven Playbook, contradicts this widely held assessment.

As the largest aggregator of cinema loyalty data in the world, Movio is well placed to explore Millennials’ movie-going and transactional behaviors, as well as how they interact with customer loyalty programs. Movio's whitepaper confirms and extends similar recent research from National CineMedia.

"Our data science analysis demonstrates that Millennials are far more engaged in cinema than the industry's anecdotally-driven belief to the contrary," says Movio chief executive and co-founder Will Palmer. “They are in a transitional phase of their life, and don't exhibit consistent behavior as a group.”

Movio can now confirm that Millennials are clearly engaged with cinemas and their loyalty programs, visiting on average 6.2 times a year and, accounting for 29 percent of box office spending – nearly as much at the box office as their proportion of the population would indicate despite their limited financial resources.

However, as cinemas and studios consider how best to market to and engage with Millennials, it is important to understand that while they do share certain characteristics, such as an interest in franchises and a desire for instant access to content, they are currently going through a transitional period in their lives and therefore may exhibit significantly different preferences and behaviors depending on which stage of this transition they are in.

Will Palmer, Movio CEO and co-founderAmong the highlights, Millennials under 25 visit the movies on average 8.5 percent more frequently than Millennials over 30; purchase 15 percent fewer tickets; spend 22 percent less on concessions each time they visit; spend 7 percent less overall; are 18 percent less likely to purchase tickets online.

Interestingly, the gender differences in visitation frequency remain relatively constant over the entire age range. The gap between women’s and men’s average tickets per visit increases as Millennials age, presumably due to the fact that women would be more likely to take children to the movies.

Millennials’ genre preferences vary significantly with age as well. A Millennial under 25 is: twice as likely to have seen a horror film as a Millennial over 30; 36 percent more likely to have seen an urban film; 25 percent more likely to have seen a young adult comedy; and 13 percent less likely to have seen an animated film during their time in a cinema loyalty program.  

Finally, the timing of their visits shifts, from primarily night sessions (60 percent) to a majority (51 percent) before six pm. Weekend attendance increases from 57 percent to 66 percent, with the majority (5 percent) of that increase coming on Saturdays, while attendance on Tuesdays and Thursdays falls from 17 percent and 11 percent to 13 percent and 9 percent respectively. So while a Tuesday night horror screening and a Saturday afternoon family film will both appeal to Millennials, they will appeal to very different subgroups within the generation, and it is important that marketers keep these different behaviors in mind.

"One of the major findings on Millennial moviegoers was that the motivation for in-theater viewing is largely to satisfy their need for instant gratification for content," Palmer adds. "It also shows that men are much more likely than women to ensure that they see a film as soon as possible. It is precisely this kind of granular analysis of Millennial's behavior which our Understanding Millennial Moviegoers: A Data-Driven Playbook whitepaper seeks to provide.” 

Download the full whitepaper at