How much value do consumers place on the ability to see a film at home when it’s still playing in the theaters? Not as much as Hollywood would like, it appears.
According to a recent survey by RBC Capital Markets, 87% of consumers said they would pay no more than $10 to see a movie on video-on-demand on the same day it is released in theaters — far less than the $60 one-time rental fee proposed by Universal in 2011 for “Tower Heist” (after a three-week hiatus, no less!), which prompted exhibitor outrage at the time.
Interest in seeing movies on video-on-demand doesn’t translate into a willingness to pay premium prices, according to the RBC survey, which polled about 1,000 consumers. Just 7% of respondents were willing to pay $11-$15 for day-and-date VOD access; 4% were willing to pay $16-$20; and 3% were willing to pay $21 or more.
On the other hand, VOD windows within 90 days of theatrical release are a notable deterrent on movie attendance, the RBC study found. Asked whether they would see a movie in theaters that was made available on VOD within 90 days of its theatrical release, 59% of respondents said it would have no effect on their decision. But 24% said they would be “somewhat less likely” to see the movie in a theater and 17% were significantly less likely to go to the cinema.
Netflix, for one, is pushing the notion that studios should simultaneously release their product in theaters and on digital services. It has slated the sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” from the Weinstein Co., to be available on Netflix streaming and in theaters on Aug. 28, 2015. Predictably, the big theater chains, for now, are refusing to play ball.
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Meanwhile, according to the RBC survey, theaters that offer more food and beverage services are likely to attract a bigger audience. More than 40% of respondents said they would be more interested in going to the movies if full meals were served, and one-third of respondents said they’d be more interested if alcoholic beverages were served.
About 60% of respondents said they have been to a theater with premium seating, and 38% of respondents said premium seating made them want to go to the movies more often.
In addition, the RBC survey showed “meaningful consumer interest” in alternative content: 43% of respondents said they were interested in seeing classic movies in a theater and 39% were interested in viewing live sporting events.
In terms of brand preference, AMC Theaters had the highest share of respondents (24%) who said the chain was their preferred brand, whereas 44% of respondents didn’t have a preference. Regal Entertainment Group came in second at 15%, followed by Cinemark Entertainment at 9% and Carmike Cinemas at 6%.