You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Student Loan Debt, Flat Wages Causing Youth to Ditch Theaters, Says AMC Chief

Money worries — not gaming or YouTube — are responsible for the decline in younger moviegoers, AMC Entertainment CEO Gerry Lopez told Variety this week at CinemaCon.

Over the past five years attendance among moviegoers ages 18 through 39 has steadily declined, raising concerns about the long-term health of an aging audience. That’s led some analysts and observers to speculate that movies lack the sizzle of digital entertainment when it comes to generations that spent their formative years online.

Younger consumers still like going to the movies, Lopez argued; they just can’t afford going as much as they once did. “I have seen no indication whatsoever that there’s less enthusiasm,” Lopez maintained. “I have seen changing economic conditions.”

It’s not just the rising costs of cellphone or cable bills that are eating into discretionary spending. There are macro-economic trends at play, he stressed. “They just have less money, and they need to be more careful about how they choose to spend their money,” he said. “I worry about the amount of disposable income this segment has available to spend.”

Studies show that wages have stagnated or declined over the past 35 years. At the same time, college loan debt has reached punishing levels. The average graduate leaves college with loan bills totaling $28,400, according to a 2014 Project on Student Debt report.

Theater owners have stressed that moviegoing remains a relatively affordable entertainment option, with national ticket prices hovering around $8 on average in recent years. However, analysts emphasize that the alternatives they are measured against, such as the cost of going to music concerts or baseball games, are deceptive. Moreover, premium theatrical formats such as Imax or 3D carry surcharges that make hitting the multiplexes a more costly proposition.

“Pricing is a problem,” said Marla Backer, an analyst with Research Associates. “People don’t think about movies the same way they think about sports or music. They go to movies on more of a recurring basis, but they’re willing to spend more on baseball because they only go to one or two games a season.”

More Film

  • Bohemian Rhapsody

    'Bohemian Rhapsody,' 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Among Cinema Audio Society Winners

    Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won the Cinema Audio Society’s top prize for sound mixing at Saturday night’s 55th annual CAS Awards. The film is Oscar-nominated for sound mixing this year along with “Black Panther,” “First Man,” “Roma” and “A Star Is Born.” In a surprise over heavy-hitters “Incredibles 2” and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” Wes [...]

  • Oscars Placeholder

    Make-Up and Hair Stylist Guild Applauds Academy's Stance on Airing Every Oscar Winner

    Rowdy boos were followed by triumphant cheers at the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards on Saturday in Los Angeles, as the Hollywood union touched on a week of controversy over a reversed decision to hand out four Oscars during the show’s commercial breaks. Hair and makeup was one of the four categories that would [...]

  • Marvelous Mrs Maisel Vice

    'Vice,' 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Lead Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Winners

    Adam McKay’s Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” starring Oscar nominees Christian Bale, Amy Adams and Sam Rockwell, won two awards at the sixth annual Make-Up and Hair Stylists Guild Awards Saturday night. The film won for best period and/or character makeup as well as special makeup effects. “Mary Queen of Scots” received the prize for period [...]

  • Bette Midler

    Bette Midler to Perform on the Oscars (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bette Midler will perform “The Place Where Lost Things Go” at the Oscar ceremonies on Feb. 24, Variety has learned. Midler, a longtime friend of composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman, will sing the song originally performed by Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” The song, by Shaiman and his lyricist partner Scott Wittman, is one of five [...]

  • Olmo Teodoro Cuaron, Alfonso Cuaron and

    Alfonso Cuarón Tells Why His Scoreless 'Roma' Prompted an 'Inspired' Companion Album

    Back around the ‘90s, “music inspired by the film” albums got a bad name, as buyers tired of collections full of random recordings that clearly were inspired by nothing but the desire to use movie branding to launch a hit song. But Alfonso Cuarón, the director of “Roma,” is determined to find some artistic validity [...]

  • Berlin Film Festival 2019 Award Winners

    Berlin Film Festival 2019: Nadav Lapid's 'Synonyms' Wins Golden Bear

    Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s “Synonyms,” about a young Israeli man in Paris who has turned his back on his native country, won the Golden Bear at this year’s Berlinale on Saturday. The Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize went to François Ozon’s French drama “By the Grace of God,” a fact-based account of the Catholic Church [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content