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Cinemas facing post-lockdown crisis, as people now prefer watching at home

Movie theatres face an unprecedented challenge when they reopen, with limited capacity rules and strict social distancing likely to be enforced.

However, the major chains and independent cinemas, could also face a new threat – it seems people would rather watch new movies at home rather than head out to the big screen, given the choice.

A new survey published by Variety suggests that 70% of people are more likely to watch a first-run movie at home. Only 13% said they’d be more likely to watch the film at a local cinema. The remaining 17% in the survey of 1,000 people said they weren’t sure.

This may be down to some scepticism over whether public venues will be safe to attend as nations gradually begin the process of opening up. Cinemas in the UK and the US are yet to reopen. In the case of the former, it is still expected to be a few months before the local Odeon begins admitting patrons.

Related: Films going straight to streaming

“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,” says Jed Pearsall, president of Performance Research, the company the conducted the research on behalf of Variety.

The figures are particularly stark considering the results of a similar survey from the same organisation a few months ago. 49% of the respondents said it would take “a few months” to “possibly never” before they’d go back to the theatres.

Since then consumers have had the opportunity to experience what it’s like to see brand new movies in the home setting, with many going straight to streaming. Those releases have been more expensive than rentals, but when compared to the cost of taking an entire family to the cinema, (along with and all of the associated refreshments) there’s money to be saved.

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