For Republicans, 52 percent say they have avoided a movie because of the political views of its star. Among Democrats, it's 36 percent. Many Democrats don't want to see movies that star Charlton Heston because he was president of the National Rifle Association. On the flip side, Sean Penn repels about 40 percent of Republicans.
This is likely fueled by Hollywood's reputation -- among both parties -- for churning out movies that promote liberalism (Avatar was named by the most moviegoers as having a liberal agenda). During the past six months, Democrats have seen on average 5.7 movies in a theater, while Republicans have seen fewer than four.
Republicans prefer family films; Democrats like edge
From hundreds of Oscar winners and classics, Republicans were far more likely to name as favorites The Sound of Music and It's a Wonderful Life; Democrats favored Bonnie and Clyde and The Silence of the Lambs. Among recent films, Republicans were likelier to choose Soul Surfer and Secretariat. Democrats? The Social Network, Bad Teacher and Easy A.
There are a few stars so admired by one party for their activism that they will seek out their films. Conservative Jon Voight is in that category, as are liberals Matt Damon and George Clooney. Some are simply universally admired for their activism, like Clint Eastwood (pictured), John Wayne and Bob Hope.
While 62 percent of Dems say Hollywood shows America in a positive light, only 39 percent of Republicans concur. And 44 percent of Republicans think Hollywood portrays the U.S. military negatively, but only 21 percent of Democrats agree. "Typically, when you see a movie, it will reflect a Democrat's values," says Jon Penn, Penn Schoen Berland's president of media and entertainment research. "Republicans aren't getting the films they want."
While majorities of both parties think movies contain too much of all those, the numbers are greater for Republicans. A majority of Democrats think Hollywood films are generally inspiring and morally uplifting; a majority of Republicans don't.
While less likely to take stars' politics into consideration when buying tickets, there are a few actors Democrats also shy from. Even Michael Moore is shunned by 21 percent of moviegoing Democrats. "Many Democrats and liberals see Michael Moore in the same way that many Republicans and conservatives see Pat Robertson: as an embarrassing blowhard who makes their own side look bad," says John Pitney Jr., a professor of American politics at Claremont McKenna College.
Democrats are likelier to see movies on opening weekend, while GOP members prefer waiting it out. Republicans assume their values will be assaulted onscreen -- so why pay the big bucks? -- while Democrats embrace pop culture more and want to be "in the know," says Penn.