Study finds that cinemas could suffer 'major drop' in attendance even after pandemic subsides

Ben Arnold
Contributor
A closed cinema in Omaha, Nebraska (Credit: AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

A study into how people will behave after coronavirus lockdown measures are eased has painted a bleak picture for the cinema business.

Currently, cinemas around the world are shuttered as governments aim to encourage social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice

Live: Follow all the latest updates from the UK and around the world

Fact-checker: The number of COVID-19 cases in your local area

Explained: Symptoms, latest advice and how it compares to the flu

But a survey (via Variety) conducted of 1000 consumers in the US has found that 49% of those questioned said that it would take between 'a few months' or 'possibly never' for them to head back to the multiplexes.

Read more: Will coronavirus wipe out summer blockbuster season?

A further 28% said that they will go to the cinema less once restrictions are lifted and screens reopen, though 58% said that their attendance would not change.

Meanwhile, 47% agreed the statement that going to a major public event ‘will scare me for a long time’.

However, some 46% said that they will value public events more than before once restrictions are lifted.

The study was conducted by events research firm Performance Research and Full Circle Research Co, and illustrates a potentially troubling future ahead for the movie business.

Last week, the US box office reported zero earnings for the first time in history.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Credit: Sony)

And now, studios are clamouring to claw back potential revenues for movies that have had their lucrative exhibition periods either curtailed or cancelled completely.

Universal has released films like The Hunt and The Invisible Man early to VOD platforms, with more likely to follow suit, while Trolls sequel, Trolls: World Tour, went straight to VOD on the same day as its cinema release, just prior to lockdown.

Read more: James McAvoy speaks about NHS donation

One leading figure in the cinema business told The Hollywood Reporter last week: “Exhibitors will not forget this.”

Meanwhile, movie releases are being shoved back across the board.

Only yesterday, Sony announced that it will delay the releases of the Ghostbusters sequel, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and its Marvel movie Morbius until next year.

Other high profile movies to have had their original releases shifted are Bond film No Time To Die, Wonder Woman: 1984 and Disney movies Mulan and Black Widow.