Young men prefer Net to pix, study sez

Hollywood is losing the interest of young males — traditionally the most avid moviegoers — to other distractions including vidgames and the Internet, a new study concludes.

Released by online research firm OTX, which polled more than 2,000 moviegoers to understand the decline in attendance this summer at the box office, the study found males between 13 and 25 saw 24% fewer films this summer than in 2003, the last time the poll was conducted.

While other demographic groups also saw fewer films this summer, the drop among young men was the steepest, OTX reported.

Drop came despite a steady overall consumer attitude toward the quality of films in the 2003 study.

The key factor, OTX said, in consumers deciding not to go to movie theaters was rising prices; particularly among the young men, that led to consumers setting a higher bar for deciding to take in a pic on the bigscreen. In the survey, 64% of that group said they were more selective about which films they choose to see in theaters rather than waiting for either the DVD or TV runs.

“It’s a pretty straightforward economic model,” said Bruce Friend, exec VP of media and entertainment insights at OTX. “The quality of films relatively stayed the same according to moviegoers. But the perceived cost of going is higher.”

In a study that quizzed whether respondents had seen the summer’s wide-release pics, males between 13 and 25 reported the biggest drop in attendance, from an average of 8.9 pics two years ago to 6.8 this year. For males 25 and older, stat was constant at 7.2; young women fell from 7.1 to 6.2; and women 25 and up dropped from 6.4 to 5.5.

Increasingly elusive young males are watching an average of 47 pics on DVD this year. Two years ago, they watched 30.

The majority also are spending more time with new forms of digital entertainment. While comparisons to 2003 weren’t available, OTX found that in 2005 62% are regularly surfing the Web on weekends, 53% are instant messaging and 53% are playing videogames. Fifty-one percent regularly go to the movie theater.

And when it comes to movies that meet their newly high standards, young men were disappointed this year. Though overall satisfaction was the same, just 35% of males under 25 said there was an “excellent selection of films to choose from” this year. In 2003, 60% of young men agreed with that sentiment.

For the overall population, the percentage of people who feel there is an “excellent” selection of films to see fell from 42% to 25%.

Also contributing to the decline, consumers mistakenly believe films make their way from theatrical to DVD release more rapidly than they actually do. In the survey, 60% of moviegoers said they thought the average time from theater to DVD is under three months, with 40% thinking it’s just two months. Actually, the average lag between theatrical rollout and DVD street date is four months.

That misperception highly correlates with the 30% of moviegoers who told OTX it’s not worth it to go to the movies when pics will hit DVD soon.

The percentage of people who prefer to see new movies in the theater fell from 79% in 2003 to 59% this year.

OTX topper Shelly Zalis said that the firm plans to conduct similar end-of-summer studies on an annual basis in order to keep up with moviegoer attitudes for its Hollywood studio client base. Its previous reports covered summer 2001 and 2003.

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