Inside Move: Gallup poll deals B.O. blow

Despite report, theaters selling more tickets than in 2000

Best known for registering opinions on presidents and policies, Gallup has turned its pollster powers to the state of the box office, finding that 48% of Americans say they go to movie theaters less often than they did five years ago.

As a statistic, it’s pretty damning for Hollywood’s film business — but people saying they go to the movies less is a very different thing than people actually going to fewer movies.

So here’s another statistic: Compared with five years ago, U.S. theaters are selling far more in tickets: $4 billion worth of tickets have been sold so far this year. Through this point in 2000, box office receipts stood at $3.25 billion, a 24% gain.

Of course, ticket prices have also gone up over that period. But even if you factor the nearly $1 rise in the average ticket prices, admissions have increased nearly 5% in the past five years, from an estimated 603 million in the first half of 2000, to 631 million this year.

The phone poll of 1,006 adults — of whom, it might be noted, 100% were at home when Gallup called and not out at the movies — may be more useful for figuring out what people don’t like about going to the movies.

For instance, just 19% said they would be much more likely to buy tickets if there was a two-year delay until a movie came out on DVD. That ranked below other potential moviegoing improvements, including better auditoriums and better behaved audiences.

However, 36% did say they would go out more often if the films themselves were better. But the No. 1 recommendation, according to Gallup, was cheaper tickets and popcorn, a step 43% said would make them much more likely to head to cinemas.

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