The return to movie theaters is a slow and ongoing process, as not all viewers are ready to go back to a crowded theater. A recent survey by Engine Insights shows that just under half (48%) of US Adults say they would be willing to go to the movies in the next week. Of those polled, younger generations are much more willing to go to the movies compared with older generations. What’s more, 63% of consumers said that they would consider paying to stream a movie at home rather than go to a movie theater.
Streaming services have provided a much needed alternative to movie theaters during the pandemic, with many streaming new releases on or soon after their premiere date. HBO Max is one of the most prominent services that embraced the day-and-date theatrical releases early on with its Warner Bros. deal, placing itself in a great position to be synonymous with at-home streaming. HBO Max was the top streaming choice for movie premieres among all ages, with 64% of both Gen Z and Millennials reporting they use it, and 46% of US adults overall.
Disney+ was the second most-used platform for movie premieres with 33% adults overall, and 55% of Gen Z and 52% of Millennials using the service for new releases. Among the movies that Disney and HBO have released, The Suicide Squad and Godzilla vs. Kong were the top watched for HBO. Black Widow came in at the top of the list for Disney.
With that being said, most consumers prefer to wait longer until movies are available for free streaming. More than 55% of adults surveyed plan to wait the 45 days post-premiere and stream at home for free (with their subscription), and only 12.6% of adults say they will pay $20-30 to stream at home, with Baby Boomers the least likely to pay to stream premieres at home (4%). This reluctance to pay more than $20 could be a factor in Disney+‘ apparent decision to phase out its Premier Access feature which is priced at $29.99 for new releases.