Even as theaters face restrictions amid rising COVID-19 infection rates, the Christmas box office — fueled by younger moviegoers — may be safe for Hollywood tentpoles in the face of the omicron surge.
A YouGov survey of about 1,000 Americans completed on Dec. 20 showed 53 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 were not more or less likely to visit theaters amid the new omicron variant. Another 20 percent of those surveyed said they were less likely to go to the local multiplex, and only 3 percent said they were more likely to get out to theaters.
The YouGov survey designed exclusively for The Hollywood Reporter found 23 percent of those aged 30 to 44 years were more likely to visit movie theaters, another 34 percent were neither more or less likely to attend and 27 percent were less likely to get out to the multiplex.
The omicron variant has become the dominant COVID-19 strain in the U.S., accounting for 73 percent of new coronavirus infections, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Dec. 20. That fast-paced spread has Hollywood studios and exhibitors debating how best to release tentpole releases two years into the pandemic.
At the same time, heading into the crucial holiday movie-going season, the major studios have seen resurgent box office for tentpoles like No Time to Die, Dune and especially Sony’s Tom Holland starrer Spider-Man: No Way Home, which reached theaters in mid-December.
Older consumers, by contrast to younger movie-goers, are more likely to stay home to view films amid rising public concerns over the faster-spreading and heavily mutated omicron variant. The YouGov survey identified that 39 percent of American respondents age 45 to 64 were less likely to attend theaters, while another 37 percent of respondents were neither more or less likely to visit the multiplex.
Of course Hollywood studios have an international calculation on when and how to release tentpole movies. And a separate YouGov survey on global movie-going taken between Nov. 16 and Dec. 6 — when the Delta variant had set in and before the omicron emergence — found that of 2,628 Americans polled 195 said they were more likely to visit theaters, another 767 said they were not more or less likely to attend and 640 respondents said they were less likely to visit theaters.
Another 813 American respondents said they didn’t get out to movie theaters amid the Delta variant. Among 2,026 British consumers polled by YouGov during the earlier period, 76 said they were more likely to visit theaters, 807 insisted they were not more or less likely to attend, 543 respondents said they were less likely to go out to the multiplex and 487 Brits said they don’t visit indoor theaters.