Why ending coronavirus lockdowns ‘won’t be enough’ to get people back to the movies

Hollywood could be facing a serious uphill battle to fill seats in movie theaters, even after coronavirus restrictions lift.

According to a recent survey from Sports and events analytics firm Performance Research and Full Circle Research, 70% of respondents would rather watch a first-run movie on-demand rather than the local cinema. The firms surveyed over 1,000 U.S. consumers between May 11- May 14.

In fact, a slim 13% said they’d choose the theater over their couch — a bleak and staggering figure for an industry relying on big tentpoles like Disney’s “Mulan” (DIS) and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” to deliver strong box office results come July, when most COVID-19 restrictions are expected to be lifted.

(Courtesy: Performance Research, Full Circle Research Co.)

Yet July might be too soon for some Americans to venture back into crowds — even with social distancing guidelines in place like capped capacity and buffer seating.

Of those that do plan to return to the movies, the data found that 37% said they expect to attend less often than before — with 10% revealing they may never go again.

And it’s not just movie theaters that are giving consumers pause. Interest in attending live events is down across the board, even compared to just a few months ago.

60% of survey respondents said the idea of attending public events like live concerts or movie screenings will “scare me for a long time”

For example, 60% of respondents said the idea of attending a public event will “scare me for a long time” — up from 47% in March.

“Just as the country begins to open up, there has been a swing toward increasing caution — with a majority of Americans clearly saying ‘not yet’ when it comes to attending large public events,” Performance Research founder Jed Pearsall said in a statement.

“And event organizers should take notice — fans of all types of events can identify significant milestones and new safety precautions that will get them back. Simply opening the doors will not be enough,” he added.

Broadway’s struggle

(Courtesy: Performance Research, Full Circle Research Co.)

Broadway, which is currently shut down through Labor Day, is expected to continue to struggle to attract attendees.

Performance Research’s data found that 51% of respondents feel it will take at least a few months before they feel comfortable enough to attend a Broadway production — even after it’s considered “safe” to do so. Meanwhile, 16% said they may never go again.

The results make Disney’s recent move to acquire “Hamilton’s” global rights worth the $75 million price tag — as the streaming film could be the one chance for some fans to experience the Tony-winning musical.

Overall, fears over a potential second wave seem to be adding to consumer wariness. A whopping 90% of those asked said that the most important factor when it comes to attending live events again is finding a coronavirus cure.

Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193

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