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Amid ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ Box-Office Boom, Most Americans Remain Wary of Going to Movie Theaters

An inside view of an empty
Sipa USA via AP

Spider-Man: No Way Home” continues to sling its way to box-office records. But more than half of U.S. consumers say they are still uncomfortable going to movie theaters amid an uptick in COVID cases.

Americans’ moviegoing comfort levels have hovered around 50% since October 2021, after peaking last year at 55% on July 4, according to research firm Morning Consult’s weekly consumer sentiment surveys. And the recent figures are well above the low of 12% of respondents in April 2020 who were willing to see movies in theaters at the front end of the pandemic.

As it turns out, the COVID surge due to the omicron variant had only marginal impact on consumer willingness to return to cinemas over the December holiday period, per Morning Consult data. For the week of Dec. 30, comfort with going to movie theaters was 47% (unchanged from the week prior) after falling 4 percentage points from 51% on Dec. 19.

Younger consumers — a key demo for “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — have consistently remained the most comfortable with returning to movie theaters: 61% of millennials and 58% of Gen Zers said they’re OK with seeing a film in theaters, as of Dec. 30.

Overall, as of Dec. 30, 19% of U.S. consumers surveyed by Morning Consult said they currently attend cinemas, while 18% said they expect to see a movie in theaters within the next month and 9% said they plan to do so within the next 2-3 months. About 8% are looking to return to theaters in six months and 19% said it would be more than six months before they go back to the cineplex. Roughly 28% responded with don’t know/no opinion.

Meanwhile, Americans are currently more comfortable with moviegoing than they are with going to an amusement park (42%), theater performance (41%) or concert (35%), per Morning Consult.

For movie theaters, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was a rare bright spot in 2021. Total domestic box office revenue for the year was pegged at $4.4 billion — a 61% drop from 2019, before COVID brought the industry to a standstill in 2020.

To date, Sony Pictures’ “Spider-Man: No Way Home” has generated $627 million in North America and a whopping $1.37 billion globally, topping 2018’s “Black Panther” ($1.34 billion) to stand as the 12th biggest film in history.