Yes, Young People Still Go to the Movies: Report Finds 18-24 Is Biggest Moviegoing Segment

A quarter of tickets sold in the last seven years were bought by people ages 18 to 24, according to a new PostTrak report.
A festival attendee holds movie tickets inside the box office during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on in Park City, Utah
2013 Sundance Film Festival - Day 1, Park City, USA - 17 Jan 2013
A festival attendee holds movie tickets inside the box office during the 2013 Sundance Film Festival on in Park City, Utah 2013 Sundance Film Festival - Day 1, Park City, USA - 17 Jan 2013
Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Teenagers and twenty-somethings would never trade a Netflix binge for a trip to the theater, right?

Not true, says a new report from movie-polling service PostTrak, which found people ages 18 to 24 make up the largest segment of moviegoers. People within that small age range represented a quarter of all ticket buyers over the last seven years.

The results from PostTrak, a service owned by Comscore and Screen Engine, offered encouraging news for studios: Members of the most coveted demographic — a group many feared had been lost to streaming — are willing to spend upwards of $20 for a movie ticket even though they’re flooded with entertainment choices that also allow them to wear pajamas.

About half of moviegoers are under 25 and half are over 25, with just 11% over 55.

Data aggregated from 1.25 million consumers polled by PostTrak for 1,002 films found that 34.4% of movie goers say they “frequently” stream movies and TV.

That shows that streaming and theatrical viewing can coexist — it’s not an either-or choice, said Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian.

“People who are dynamic in their pursuit of entertainment are very agnostic in terms of where they want to get their content — ‘Wherever the good content is, I’ll be there,'” he said.

Dergarabedian said media giants like Disney — which owns 40% of the global box office and is readying to launch its enticing Disney+ streaming service — will likely look to increase interconnectivity between theatrical and streaming content.

A Marvel Cinematic Universe show on Disney+, for example, could include a call-to-action to bring people to the theaters and help drum up excitement for the latest release.

“Keeping the big screen and the small screen sequestered into different silos in this age of streaming doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.

Last year was a bright spot at the box office after a half decade of steadily declining revenue. Domestic ticket sales in 2018 spiked last year to $11.89 billion, the highest since 2013. For the first half of this year, numbers were down 9.4% compared to the same period in the year before, according to Box Office Mojo.

Franchises and adaptations continue to be the main driver of consumers to theaters: With a $2.8 billion worldwide gross, “Avengers: Endgame” became the highest-grossing movie ever after it was released earlier this year. Other top performers were “The Lion King,” “Captain Marvel,” and “Spider-Man: Far from Home” — all franchise installments.

You have to go all the way to No. 17 in the top-grossers list before getting to something that’s not a sequel or adaptation: Jordan Peele’s “Us,” which brought in $252.7 million — not even one-tenth of the “Avengers” revenue.

PostTrak conducts exit polling of moviegoers and uses their responses to rate films on a scale of 1-100 and competes with CinemaScore, which offers letter grades.

The PostTrak data found viewers rate adventure films highest on average (82), while viewers are growing increasingly fond of horror movies (think “Us,” “Get Out,” and “Hereditary).

Dergarabedian said that trend was well illustrated by the first chapter of “It,” released in 2017.

“It was a movie that generated a ton of excitement among younger moviegoers, who found the characters to be particularly relatable, the language they used, the R-rated intensity of the movie,” he said. “It really gave young people something they could really get into.”

Warner Bros. will open “It: Chapter Two” in theaters nationwide September 4.

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