Frequent Moviegoing Slipped in 2019, Fewer Tickets Sold Across All Age Groups

Empty Theatre - Getty - H 2020
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However, the number of occasional moviegoers, defined as those who go to a theater less than once a month, made gains.

A detailed report released Wednesday by the Motion Picture Association helps to explain why moviegoing dipped in North America last year by 4 percent to $11.4 billion.

Two key stats: The number of frequent moviegoers declined, and the number of tickets sold to all consumers slipped across every age group compared to 2018.

Frequent moviegoers, defined as someone who goes to the cinema once a month or more, are always a coveted group. In 2019, there were 11 million such moviegoers in North America who were responsible for 47 percent of all ticket sold. That compares to 12 million and 49 percent of all tickets sold in 2018. The number of infrequent moviegoers, or those that go only once a year, increased from 10 percent to 11 percent.

The number of occasional moviegoers, defined as those who go to a theater less than once a month, made gains, increasing from 53 percent to 54 percent, while non-moviegoers fell from 25 percent to 24 percent.

Overall, more than 76 percent of consumers in North America went to the cinema at least once in 2019, compared to 75 percent in 2018, although the typical moviegoer bought 4.6 tickets last year, compared to five tickets in 2018.

While Caucasians bought the majority of tickets sold in 2019 (54 percent), that share was less than in 2018 (55 percent). The Hispanic/Latino continued to report the highest annual attendance per capita, going to the cinema 4.7 times a year. Otherwise, per capita attendance decreased among all other ethnic groups. Among frequent moviegoers, the Hispanic/Latino demo continued to be overrepresented compared to their share of the population, as did the Asian demo.

The gender composition of 2019 audiences was split evenly among men and women. A breakdown of the year's five top-grossing films domestically show that Frozen 2 drew the largest share of females (60 percent), followed by Toy Story 4 (51 percent). Femmes also made up the majority of the audience for The Lion King (53 percent), while Avengers: Endgame (58 percent), Captain Marvel (57) skewed male.

In terms of ethnicity for the same list of movies, Avengers: Endgame played to the most diverse audience, followed by The Lion King.

"We also saw how films that put diversity in front of the camera, including Parasite, Us, Dora and the Lost City of Gold and Hustlers, won accolades from audiences and critic," MPA chairman-CEO Charles Rivkin wrote in the report.