May 13 • 50M

Pod: The Moviegoers Never Coming Back

It's summer blockbuster season! And go-to audience guru Kevin Goetz knows who will (and won't) be sitting in the seats

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Top Gun: Maverick (Paramount Pictures)

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Today’s Ankler Hot Seat podcast welcomes guest Kevin Goetz, a man who has been at the center of Hollywood’s so-called “movie research industry” for more than three decades via his firm, Screen Engine/ASI. On today’s episode, Goetz, who is also the author of the bestseller Audience-Ology: How Moviegoers Shape the Movies We Love (Simon & Schuster), joins hosts Janice Min, Richard Rushfield and Tatiana Siegel as cautious optimism reigns over this summer’s coming blockbuster season. Goetz discusses a looming theatrical reckoning as the most rabid moviegoing demographic is replaced by an apathetic new generation.

“Let me give you the sobering truth of what's happening with Gen Zs and millennials,” he says.

  • “Ten years ago, 2 to 11-year-olds saw 4.1 movies [per year in theaters]. Now they're seeing about three movies, and our prediction in 10 years is 2.2 movies.”

  • “12 to 17-year-olds 10 years ago saw 7.9 movies. Now: 5.1. In 10 years, 3.3.”

  • “18 to 24-year-olds were at 8.4 movies. Now: 5.1. In 10 years, 3.3.”

And so on…

“So [with] the declines of Z and millennials… as the older folks die off, sorry to say, every 10 years, you're going to see a decline in moviegoing,” he says, while adding the slightly bright note that the populations of the younger audiences are far larger than they used to be, which make up for some of the change in habit.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom. Goetz notes that studios will succeed if they can better curate their theatrical offerings and push the less-necessary fare to streaming services, like Sony has done during the pandemic. He also gave high marks to Netflix for being “the first to recognize and listen to the consumer” and making decisions based on that input. Adds Goetz. “My whole career has been [about being] the advocate of the moviegoer, the TV viewer, the entertainment consumer. And I have to say that, [Hollywood has often] avoided them. Many people have avoided them too long at their own peril.”

Goetz predicts that by Labor Day, Disney and Universal will be most pleased with their summer slates, and several films will help erase the two-year Covid nightmare, namely Tom Cruise’s Tom Gun: Maverick, Chris Pratt’s Jurassic World Dominion and the Marvel tentpoles Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder.

And despite Warner Bros. and Disney’s much-maligned stab at day-and-date releases during the pandemic, Goetz says the strategy is likely here to stay.

“I don't think we've done enough in the space to rule it dead,” he says. “I think that what you're going to see is custom patterns now. Every movie will be not from a cookie-cutter mold but will have its own criteria. So, some movies will stay in the theaters for 31 days. Some will stay in for 10 days. Some will stay in for two months. Because that's the reality of what has to happen.”

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