Millennial and Teen Attendance Still Strong in 2017
By Doug Pulick, SVP, Strategic Insight & Analytics with NCM
After a record year in Hollywood, any decrease in box office or attendance always seems to bring on the headlines decrying the end of movie-going as we know it. But, as with every other industry, one quarter does not define a year.
The 1st Quarter 2017 U.S. box office got off to one of its best starts in many a year, powered by such December 2016 blockbuster carry-overs like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the animated hit Sing, near-Oscar-winner for Best Picture La La Land, and timely social drama Hidden Figures. But the hits kept on coming with Logan, Get Out, Lego Batman and, of course, Disney’s blockbuster live action re-boot of Beauty and the Beast. The chart below tells a very clear story of a strong January and February that held its own against the same months in previous years, but blew out the pack in March with the premiere of the Mouse House fairy tale.
And 2nd Quarter got off to a strong start as well, with an April box office and attendance that bested the previous year. But, admittedly, May and June box office and total attendance did cool down, which led to movie pundits fearing that the summer season kick-off would be the touchstone for the rest of the movie-going year.
Interestingly enough, audience attendance by Millennials (i.e. P18-34) and the equally hard to reach target demo of P18-49, remained buoyant in April and May (while stumbling year-over-year for the month of June).
But the real story that’s been lost in this harangue of temporary audience decline surrounds the key demo thought to be forever lost to their personal devices, Teens!
Since the beginning of 2017, Teen movie attendance has averaged just shy of 6 million a month, or a total of 36 million P12-17 for the first half of 2017. That’s an 8% increase over 2016! Teens may in fact be helping to resurrect the movie musical, with films like La La Land, Sing, Beauty and the Beast, and the greatly anticipated Pitch Perfect 3 – the franchise that gave voice, literally, to teen angst on-stage via the Tony-winning Pitch Perfect alum Ben Platt.
Additionally, while July 2017 is down from July of last year, total attendance is actually pacing 2% ahead of the same time of 2015! So again, pitting the summer of 2017 against a record-breaking summer from the previous year, while accurately reported as being down, is hardly a fair comparison to make and in no way hints at a theatrical movie exhibition apocalypse.
So, truly, two poorly performing months at the box office (June and July) certainly do not determine an entire year. There are at least a half-dozen films in the pipeline toward the end of Q3 and throughout Q4 that can help get this year back on track, including blockbusters like It, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Blade Runner 2049, Thor: Ragnarok, Justice League, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
So my advice is to keep calm, and go to the movies.