What Will Consumer Foot Traffic to Movie Theaters Look Like This Holiday Season?

December 19, 2023

Traditionally, the holiday season is a busy time for movie theaters, attracting crowds eager to catch the latest blockbusters, acclaimed films, and family-friendly releases that typically debut during this time. However, the movie theater industry faced a substantial blow during the COVID-19 pandemic due to restrictions on large gatherings, resulting in a drastic decline in movie attendance that significantly impacted the business.

A young Caucasian family is at the movie theater, bonding as they're ready to see a movie together.

Despite these hurdles, there has been a noticeable resurgence in movie-going recently. The success of blockbuster hits like Top Gun: Maverick in 2022 and Barbie and Oppenheimer earlier this year signals a renewed consumer interest in heading to the movies. 

As the holiday season approaches, what can the movie theater industry expect this year? To find out, we analyzed consumer foot traffic data to movie theaters from the weeks of November 20, 2022, to December 25, 2022.

Movie Theater Foot Traffic by Week

During the week of November 27, 2022, foot traffic to movie theaters surged by 33%, compared to the week of November 20, 2022. This increase was likely due to the release of holiday-themed movies coinciding with Thanksgiving, as well as the increased leisure time people had during the holiday, prompting consumers to head to the movies.

However, during the week of December 4, there was a significant decline in consumer foot traffic to theaters (15%), which further dropped by the week of December 11 (-3%). This decline could likely be attributed to people being occupied with various holiday-related activities like shopping, attending gatherings, or decorating their homes. Additionally, the absence of major movie releases between Thanksgiving and Christmas could have contributed to the decreased attendance.

Yet, during the weeks of December 18 and December 25, 2022, foot traffic spiked again, increasing to 36% and then 42%, respectively. This resurgence was likely driven by consumers heading to the movies as a holiday activity, bolstered by the release of films, such as the blockbuster Avatar: The Way of Water and the family-friendly movie Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.

Movie Theater Foot Traffic by Week – Selected Brands

Analyzing foot traffic data across different movie theater chains revealed similar trends. Each brand experienced a surge around November 27, 2022, followed by a decline until December 11, then another spike from December 18 to December 25. The only exception was AMC Theatres, which saw a minor decline from the weeks of December 18 to December 25, but continued to sustain significant foot traffic regardless.

By December 25, 2022, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and non-chain theaters saw the most substantial rise in foot traffic, marking a 44% increase from November 20, 2022. Meanwhile, Regal Cinemas and AMC Theatres both showed notable growth with a 33% and 32% increase, respectively.

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