Movie theaters across the country have shut their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic

Movie theaters may face additional obstacles when they are finally able to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.

A new study from Performance Research and Full Circle Research Co. indicates that the vast majority of moviegoers — 70 percent — are more likely to watch a first-run movie as a digital rental at home instead of heading to a theater, if the cost were equal and both were available today.

Only 13 percent in the survey of about 1,000 people said they’re more likely to go to a movie theater to see a new release, with 17 percent marking not sure.

“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,” Jed Pearsall, president of Performance Research, told Variety, who exclusively reported the survey results Wednesday.

Empty movie theater
Credit: Getty

The survey also found that 37 percent of respondents plan to attend movie theaters less often, even after the CDC and local governments say it’s safe to go, and 10 percent say they may never go again.

Performance Research conducted a similar survey in March, which found those same figures to be much lower: only 28 percent said they would attend theaters less often and 6 percent indicated they may never go again.

Comedy films lead the pack in terms of what movie genres would most likely get people to buy a movie ticket if they do return to theaters, marking a shift from what has typically drawn ticket sales in past years.

Castro Theatre that has a marquee announcing that they are closed due to a statewide ordinance banning gatherings of more than 250 people on March 15, 2020 in San Francisco, California
Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty

43 percent of respondents said they would mostly likely buy a ticket for a comedy, with drama as the second most popular option at 35 percent. Genres that have historically dominated at the box office — superhero and horror films — came in at 33 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

The findings regarding movie theaters were similar to those for other entertainment industries: 39 percent said they’ll attend major indoor concerts less often, 36 percent said they’ll attend theme parks less often and 33 percent said they’ll attend theater and performing arts venues less often.

More than half of respondents — 51 percent — said it will take a few months before attending a Broadway show in New York, even after officials deem it safe to do so.

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