Majority Of Moviegoers Will Return To Cinemas If COVID-19 Safety Guidelines Are In Place, EDO Survey Finds

movie theater during Covid-19
Theater strikingly adapted for 1.5 meter society with plexiglass and partitions between the seats. Markant Uden, in collaboration with Tausch, has developed an exit strategy that makes it possible for Dutch theaters to receive more than the previously permitted number of 30 visitors, within the limits of the corona measures. " Robin Utrecht/Shutterstock

EXCLUSIVE: Good news for big circuits AMC, Regal and Cinemark and other movie theaters hoping to return to business in late June or early July. According to an updated EDO moviegoer study titled “Movie Theaters and Social Distancing,” 75% of respondents said they were more likely to return to cinemas upon their reopening when Tenet, Mulan and Russell Crowe’s Unhinged hit — if movie theaters implement certain safety measures.

EDO survey says majority of moviegoers headed back with COVID-19 safety measures

What cinema safety protocols would encourage moviegoers to head back sooner? A lopsided 91% said theaters should have hand-sanitizer stations throughout the building, while 86% are in favor of limited showtimes to allow for extended cleaning times between screenings. Other factors encouraging the moviegoing population to come back include cinema employees wearing facemasks (77%), employees getting their temperatures checked before work (~70%) and attendees also wearing facemasks (~70%).

Interestingly, nearly 60% of moviegoers are open to having their temperatures taken when they return to the cinema, while about 5% believe no safety measures should be implemented.

What’s key to note in the latest survey from EDO is that when respondents were polled initially, they were asked outright if they’d return to cinemas. Those responses drew a near split reaction between likely (40%) and unlikely (36%). However, with the implementation of their desired safety measures, the rate of respondents who said that they were likely to return increased significantly from 40% to 75%. Eighty percent of the EDO sample said the ability to RSVP seats also was a positive factor contributing to their decision to head back to the cinema.

EDO Survey -- What safety measures moviegoers want to see upon return during COVID-19

Other takeaways from the new survey: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, respondents still click on the same streaming service they’ve been watching since before the crisis — and that’s Netflix by a wide lead of 50%. Those who head to cable/satellite/broadcast TV first polled around 15%, Hulu at less than 15%, Amazon Prime at 10% and Disney+ at less than 10%.

Also, in the wake of Universal’s PVOD disruption with the $100 million-grossing Trolls World Tour, and more titles like Warner Bros’ Scoob! this weekend and Uni’s The King of Staten Island on June 12, is PVOD a big deal with at-home consumers, especially with all the streaming subscriptions they have? Close to 35% answered they never browse PVOD menus, while 29% said they occasionally browse and 26% only go to the PVOD menu looking for a specific movie. Eleven percent  said they often look through PVOD options.

As we reporteed earlier this week, NATO New York is lobbying the state to place movie theaters in the Phase 3 reopening with restaurants, given how their layout and staggered attendance is significantly different from Broadway theaters, which are scheduled for Phase 4 and might not reopen until January 2021. In order for these big event movies to happen, not only do New York and Los Angeles have to be open, but a majority of the world’s theaters need to as well. NYC currently counts 190,000 COVID-19 cases, repping 2% of its population, while Los Angeles has 35,000, or less than 1% of its population, per recent reported stats.

In its latest survey, EDO polled a sample of 3,269 respondents who skewed female with 40% younger than 35. A large portion of the sample were regular moviegoers, with 95% having seen at least two movies in theaters during a typical six-month span. Diversity breakdown of those polled were 45% Caucasian, 27% Latinx, 13% African American, 9% Asian and 6% other. More than half of those polled had completed college, with annual income uniform across the sample. Nearly the entire group said they were at least somewhat concerned about the coronavirus pandemic.

EDO is backed by three-time Oscar-nominated actor Edward Norton. The firm has been making waves in the movie-testing sector with its digital polling versus the industry’s standard pencil-and-paper polls. The data has yielded more insightful research for those studios that have used the technology.

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