Many Moviegoers Would Return to Theaters Within One Month of Reopening

AMC -Theater Closed signs are posted in front - March 17, 2020- Getty-H 2020
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The new poll from Atom Tickets also found that spaced seating is the single most important concern for consumers, while just 6 percent care about temperature checks.

Many consumers would return to movie theaters within a month of cinemas reopening if there was a title they wanted to see, according to a new poll from Atom Tickets.

The survey of 1,500 people found that 25 percent would go to a cinema immediately and 34 percent within one month. Another 18 percent would do so within two months, making for a total of 77 percent.

Among the rest of respondents, 21 percent would wait for vaccine before seeing a movie on the big screen, while a scant 1 percent said they would never return to the multiplex.

The survey from the online ticketing company provided mostly good news for Hollywood and cinema chains who are hoping that theaters will be reopened en masse by early July. So far, Christoper Nolan's Tenet is sticking to its July 17 date, while Solstice Studios recently moved up the Russell Crowe road-rage thriller Unhinged to July 1 in hopes of giving theaters new product. (Unhinged also has the advantage of having no competition.)

Numerous polls in recent weeks have found that consumers would be more likely to return to cinemas if there was staggered seating and enhanced cleaning measures. Atom's survey, conducted the week of May 11, found much the same, with 42 percent saying that spaced seating is of paramount importance. That was followed by additional sanitary measures (21 percent), a requirement that guests and staff wear masks (14 percent), social distancing in lines and the lobby and temperature checks (6 percent).

Further, 88 percent of those surveyed would like to purchase digital tickets, so that they don't have to interact with theater staff. There also could be a shift to pre-ordering concessions (of those who have never done so, 61 percent say they now would).

The vast majority of cinemas in the U.S. have been closed since March 20. Simultaneously, Hollywood studios began delaying their releases in a migration that has upended the 2020 and 2021 calendars.

“Moviegoers are telling us that they miss the experience of going to the movies and they’re ready to get back, but that the experience needs to look slightly different than before,” said Atom Tickets chairman and co-founder Matthew Bakal. “We anticipate a rapid acceleration in digital ordering, just as we have seen in other industries, in order to reduce the amount of person-to-person interactions.

Atom Tickets is backed by Lionsgate, Disney, and Fidelity Management & Research Company.