Movie-Going Decline: Challenge or Opportunity for Theaters?

Movie Theater

Image from: Movie Theater / Shutterstock

Movie theaters and online ticketing sites have been forced to find creative ways to reach and convert consumers online. Why? Well, for the overall American population, going out to the movies has dropped lower and lower on the priority list.  We’re trading nights out at the movies for nights in on the couch.

According to The Motion Picture Association of America’s 2013 Theatrical Market Statistics Report (TMSR), movie going declined for most every age group in 2013. The TMSR revealed that moviegoers aged 18-24 fell from 8.7 to 7.2 million, ages 12-17 dropped from 6.3 to 5.5 million, and the 25-39 age group slipped from 9.9 million to 8.2 million. The truth is the majority of Americans are trading nights out at the theater for nights in on the couch at home. According to a Harris poll released in January, 57% of Americans said they would rather stay at home to see a movie. According to the same poll, two thirds of Americans admitted going to the movies less frequently than they did a few years ago.  The act of going to the movies has always offered a unique experience- the huge screen, dark room and comfortable seats. However, with the increasing sales of large flat screen TV’s that produce theater-quality sound, getting that “theater experience” at home is becoming more common.  Combine all of that with the easily accessible “On Demand” features and a growing Netflix subscription rate andthe decline in movie going becomes clearer.

Compete PRO further proves that movie theater websites, along with third party online ticketing sites, have volatile numbers over the years; sites like have been experiencing strong inconsistencies in terms of traffic and engagement.

Fandango UVs may 12 may 14

This widespread industry decline has spurred a lot of theater and ticketing sites to add more content to their domains — rather than just movie tickets—with the hope that engaging content will lead to conversions. For example, in recent news, Fandango signed a deal to acquire Movieclips- a network of short film clips, trailers, and original video productions to add to the content of their site.  According to a recent article on The Wall Street Journal, the hope is that this expansion of product offerings creates a “destination” for movie fans rather than a means to secure seats.  Fandango isn’t the only site working to provide unique content; its competitor launched a weekly online video series starring YouTube personality Taryn Southern.  The series started in late 2013, titled “Movie Therapy,” aims to comically help moviegoers decide which film they should go see. believes the creation of dynamic content will provide more reasons for film fans to visit and be inclined to purchase.

While the decline in movie going is causing a problem for theaters, it’s also testing their creativity for finding ways to engage and convert consumers on site. People expect media content to be more and more interactive—creating experiences that can’t be mimicked on a tablet or even in a home theater. Movies like Avatar and Gravity had huge success because of the unique experience they created for the movie-goer. The future of the movie theater will continue to present its challenges and it’s critical to view any obstacles as opportunities to better website content – in hopes of turning every visitor into one of two things: 1) a loyal fan or 2) a converted customer.

About Alison Shafer:
Alison Shafer is a Customer Success Manager at Millward Brown Digital. She has a degree in Marketing and Communications from Syracuse University and has worked in various marketing roles since graduating in 2011. Find her on LinkedIn or Google+!