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Cinema attendance soars 77% in early 2022 as Australians flock back to see blockbusters such as Spiderman & Batman

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, Oct-Dec 2021, n= 16,762, Jan-Mar 2022, n=15,880. Base: Australians 14+.
Cinema attendance in Australia soared during the early months of 2022 as blockbusters such as Spiderman, Batman and Uncharted drew audiences back in droves. Importantly for Australia’s cinema houses it has been the high-value premium consumers who are the vanguard driving this return to cinemas.

In the March Quarter 2022 cinema attendance increased by 77% over the prior quarter with 3.9 million people attending the cinema in an average four weeks. All the signs are that with keenly awaited movies including Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and the newly released Elvis biopic now in cinemas similarly strong growth in attendance can be expected in the June quarter 2022.

The large growth in cinema attendance this year has seen large increases across key demographics and driven attendances to easily their highest since the pandemic began early in 2020.

Women’s attendance at the cinema is up a spectacular 88% for the March quarter 2022 compared to the prior quarter whilst men are up by 67%.

Across the different age groups cinema attendance in the first quarter of 2022 soared by as much as 91% for people aged 35-49 over the prior quarter and was up by 81% for those aged 14-24, 72% for people aged 25-34 and 65% for those aged 50+.

These impressive figures suggest 2022 will be a bumper year for the cinema industry as audiences are expected to continue growing in the months ahead. The average cinemagoer in the March quarter 2022 attended the cinema over 1.4 times, a rate comparable to immediately prior to the pandemic two years ago.

Cinema attendance in an average four weeks: December qtr. 2021 vs. March qtr. 2022

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, Oct-Dec 2021, n= 16,762, Jan-Mar 2022, n=15,880. Base: Australians 14+.

High value premium audiences are the quickest to return to the cinema in 2022

Looking ‘underneath the hood’ at who is driving the return to cinemas this year reveals it is the high-value premium audiences who are leading the charge.

Roy Morgan classifies around a quarter of the Australian population as ‘NEOs’ – those Australians who spend more, more frequently, and recover from economic slumps first and fastest. ‘NEO’ literally stands for ‘New Economic Order’ consumers and they are the premium band of recession-busting consumers that are leading the charge out of the COVID lockdowns of the last two years.

In the March quarter 2022 over a third (36%) of ‘Hyper NEOs’ (The Top 10% of NEOs) went to the cinema at an average of over 1.5 times in an average four weeks. This was up 12% points from the December quarter 2021.

Close behind are the ‘Super NEOs’ (The Top 50% of NEOs) with almost a third (32%) attending the cinema in an average four weeks, an increase of 13% points from the December quarter 2021.

Overall, nearly a third (30%, up 12% points) of Australia’s 5 million ‘NEOs’ attended the cinema in an average four weeks in the March quarter 2022 compared to around 18% of the population at large.

These results show Australia’s cinemas are a popular destination for Australia’s 5 million premium consumers – those consumers who spend more, and more frequently, and are the most resilient in the face of challenging economic conditions. 

Who are these NEOs?

Roy Morgan Single Source, the nation’s largest and longest-running database of consumer behaviour and attitudes, shows NEOs are 2.5 times more likely than traditional consumers to earn over $200,000pa and are three times more likely to be in the top decile (10%) of wealth. They are also very big discretionary spenders, in fact they spend three times as much as Australia’s 10 million traditional consumers … but they don’t do so indiscriminately.

Cinema attendance in an average four weeks for NEOs & Aspiring NEOs: March qtr. 2022

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source, Jan-Mar 2022, n=15,880. Base: Australians 14+.

Michele Levine – CEO, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“The new year has brought relief for many Australians and cinema-goers are no exception with millions of people keen to re-embrace a favourite tradition as the new ‘COVID-normal’ means we can go about our daily lives largely as we did prior to the pandemic.

“The first few months of this year brought many blockbusters to the big screen with some of the biggest hits including superhero films such as Spiderman, Batman and Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and this spurred a massive 77% increase in cinema attendance in the March quarter 2022 compared to the December quarter 2021.

“The increase was broad-based across all key demographic groups but some of the standouts were the 88% increase in cinema attendance amongst women and the 91% increase in cinema attendance for people aged 35-49. Cinema attendance amongst all key demographics has increased to its highest levels since the pandemic began just over two years ago.

“Perhaps even more importantly to the bottom line, the consumers that are returning in droves have been identified by Roy Morgan as the premium consumers – the high spending and resilient consumers that are the first to return after economic slumps and the most likely to be resilient during an economic slump in the first place.

“Nearly a third (30%) of these premium consumers, known as ‘NEOs’, attended the cinema during the March quarter 2022 and honing-in on the ‘Hyper NEOs’ – the Top 10% of NEOs, increases this rate of attendance to 36% - over one-in-three – and in increase of 12% points on the prior quarter.

“The return of these premium consumers to Australia’s cinemas augurs well for the next few months as Australians continue to return in droves to one of their favourite past-times. The pipeline of big-budget films has continued during the current quarter with Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic Park: Dominion and the newly released Minions: The Rise of Gru and the Elvis biopic. Looking forward audiences are keenly anticipating upcoming blockbusters such as Thor: Love and Thunder and later on in the year the sequel to the highest grossing film of all time – Avatar.”

To find out more about the work done on NEOs and their impact on the economy by Roy Morgan in conjunction with Dr Ross Honeywill from the Centre for Social Economics additional information can be found at Roy Morgan Premium.

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