Seniors, a traditional audience for movie theaters… to reconquer

The current generations of seniors are generations that have always gone to the movies. Indeed, as children, they often did not have television at home and even when they were older, the number of channels being limited, the cinema was a great opportunity for leisure and outings. With the aging of the population, the cinema audience has also aged and the over 50s represent, in 2022, a little more than 40% of spectators today and the over 60s, 25%.

However, the Covid crisis has led, as for younger spectators, to a decline in attendance. Indeed, if the over 60s were 47% to go to theaters in 2019, they were only 34% in 2021, a decline of 29%, higher than that of the entire population (23%). This decline was further compounded by a drop in the number of annual visits from 6.6 in 2019 to 2.9 in 2020 and 5.0 in 2021.

While the decline in visitation appears to be common to all audiences, the reasons for the decline are very different by age. For the over 60s, the first reason is “loss of habit” for 51% of them, followed by “refusal to want to wear a mask” (46%) and “lack of films that make you want to go” (30%). This last reason is linked to the lack of French films, which is highly appreciated by senior citizens: 67% of their viewers are over 35 years old. Another peculiarity is that senior citizens greatly appreciate the broadcasting of live shows such as concerts, opera or ballet on the big screen….

We can see that the reasons for non-attendance are quite different for younger people. The primary reason for non-attendance among 15-34 year olds is “to watch films on other media” (36%) and among 35-59 year olds, that they “find the ticket price too expensive” (46%), whereas this argument concerns only 26% of those aged 60 and over. Watching a film on another medium is mentioned by only 27% of the older generation. However, it should be noted that competition from subscription video-on-demand services such as Netflix or Disney+ is also winning over the population aged 50 and over. Indeed, they now represent 24% of the audience, compared to 11% in January 2020.

A leisure activity that has always been appreciated by seniors, the cinema has seen a sharp decline in attendance among this target group with the pandemic. This is an important target because it values the 7th art at its true value; the price dimension is only mentioned by a minority of them. “Restoring the habit of going to the movies has become an important issue for a loyal target group that has time to go to the movies in retirement.

Sources: CNC Why do the French go to the movies less often? 2022; CinExpert Barometer study of movie theater audiences 2022; The evolution of movie theater audiences CNC 2012

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