Who doesn’t love going to the movies? A growing number of people, it appears.
Total US admissions in 2019 declined nearly 5 percent, the second-worst year for movie ticket buying since 1995. That’s despite incredible storytelling, 3D, Imax and 4DX experiences, and visual effects and imagery that are so true to life that it’s hard to tell the difference from the real thing. At the same time, more new content is being released ever-faster – in 2018 there were 350 more movies released than in 2009. This has created a business challenge: production studios must invest significantly more to stay competitive, yet those investments are not bringing more people to the theater.
So, what has changed?
Consumer expectations fueled by tremendous advances in technology, of course. Today, consumers have unprecedented access to enormous libraries of content: anywhere, anytime and on any device. And the quality of storytelling continues to improve in a highly competitive market. In fact, in a new Accenture research study surveying over 1,000 moviegoers, 43 percent of respondents said they turn to streaming services like Netflix and Hulu most often to watch newly-released video content.
And while the studios are still drawing audiences to the theaters, especially for big blockbuster releases, the appetite for watching premium content at home is growing. Why? Because it avoids the friction of getting to the theater, waiting in line, purchasing tickets or finding seats.
What does the future hold?
The basic experience of going to see a movie has remained relatively unchanged for years. Choosing a movie, arriving at the theater, navigating the lobby and concession stand, and ultimately watching the movie, are all more or less as familiar to the moviegoers of today as they were to audiences 50 years ago. Thankfully, the studios that create the movies have continued to produce top-tier content that is best experienced “on the big screen.” Just look at Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame, which grossed more than $350M in the US over its opening weekend in April 2019.
And yes, theater owners have improved the comfort and convenience of the movie-going experience with digital ticketing, reservable and more comfortable seating and extensive catering options. But despite all of this, ticket sales continue to decline.
The power of 5G, enabling new technology
The proliferation of 5G and the integration of existing and new technology will enable new capabilities at scale to transform the theatrical experience. For example:
The cinematic experience of the future, fueled by 5G
What if going to the movies was part of a connected experience spanning multiple touchpoints that draw people into the theaters? That means before the theater experience, on the way to the theater, at the theater and back at home – or anywhere consumers are using devices.
What if consumers once again saw the theatrical experience as new and innovative, and there were reasons to go to the theater in addition to seeing the main feature? In an Accenture 5G consumer survey, 58 percent of consumers said they would be excited about a connected, end-to-end extended reality experience, and 84 percent of them would be willing to pay for it.
Could harnessing 5G to create unique and compelling experiences draw audiences in for the next 50 years? The answer is yes.
Creating movie magic
Of course, 5G is a key component of creating new experiences that will transform a trip to the movies. But it’s not the only piece of the puzzle. Bringing all the required innovations and capabilities together seamlessly to deliver a new experience for moviegoers requires coordination across a broad and complex partner ecosystem.
Creating excitement among consumers and educating them about the new experiences before, during and after the movie theater is only the first step. Disrupting the cinematic experience by engaging with the consumer throughout the end-to-end connected experience requires studios and theaters to innovate, operate and market differently. Being able to pilot new ideas quickly is crucial and there are several key determinants that must be factored into this pivot.
Among them are security and privacy concerns, which are critical in the upfront considerations of the design and implementation of these new experiences. Additionally, the right partners who can work with pace and agility to develop concepts into scaled applications will be critical to the success of these new movie-going experiences. 5G opens up entirely new potential for entertainment. It’s not a matter of if, but when these connected experiences are available.
The technologies are feasible, and the network capabilities are ever closer. Get excited, change your perspective…coming soon to a theater near you!