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BREAKING THE BLOCKBUSTER CODE WHITE PAPER Audience Evolution Patterns Revealed

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  • BREAKING THE BLOCKBUSTER CODE

    WHITE PAPER

    Audience Evolution Patterns Revealed

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    CONTENTS

    About the Author 03

    Your audience isnt what you think it is! 04

    Do audiences evolve? 05

    Methodology 06

    Painting audience evolution patterns 08

    What is the impact on studios marketing plans? 11

    Appendix - Supporting figures 12

    About Movio 22

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Bryan Smith, Chief Data Scientist

    Dr. Smith has a B.S.E. degree in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics from Tulane University and Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Applied Mathematics from Northwestern University in Chicago. He heads research in statistics, science, and analytics at Movio, concentrating on the development of new products that utilize Movios global moviegoer database to generate analytical insights.

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    YOUR AUDIENCE ISNT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS!

    Most people in the film industry agree that the audience of a tentpole film on opening night is a good indicator of its target audience and who will see it over the full theatrical run. Well, this is arguable.

    Star Wars: The Force Awakens actually demonstrated a dramatic evolution of its audience over a week.

    The gender distribution was 72% male on opening night, down seven percentage points (65%) by Sunday, and another four percentage points (61%) by the following Thursday.

    So, what if this phenomenon was not an exception but the rule? Would film studios design their marketing plans in the same fashion when knowing how to maximize their return on investment post-release? Considering the astronomical production budgets of blockbusters, associated with the colossal marketing power to get moviegoers through the theatre doors, one would expect so.

    The Movio data science team was up to the challenge.

    YOUR AUDIENCE ISNT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS!

    male 72%female 28%

    male 65%female 35%

    male 61%female 39%

    OPENING NIGHT

    SUNDAY

    THURSDAY

    THE FEMALE SHARE OF THE STAR WARS AUDIENCE INCREASED BY 15% OVER OPENING WEEK

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    DO AUDIENCES EVOLVE?

    Each weekend, when a new blockbuster is released, tracking polls are conducted to determine the demographics of the audience, which is typically reported as a pair of percentage splits - male vs. female and under 25 vs. over 25. This is sometimes accompanied by a breakdown of the audience ethnicity. This information is then presumably used to conduct continued marketing throughout the films run in order to drive higher attendance. These surveys are only conducted on opening weekend, suggesting that the composition of a films audience is fixed. Unfortunately, if this assumption is false, then studios and marketing agencies may be missing an opportunity to market to different segments of the population in season. Interestingly, industry media publications did report on the shift in the audience for Star Wars: The Force Awakens over the Christmas holidays in 2015 1. As Figure 1 (in Appendix) shows, the gender shift was pretty dramatic for Episode VII: the male audience consistently decreases five to seven percentage points over the first three days.

    This led us to ask the question - how common is the evolution of a movie audience over time, and if it is common, does it follow a predictable pattern? Fortunately, at Movio, we have access to data on the demographics and moviegoing behavior of millions of cinema loyalty members, so we are able to explore the evolution of the audience for any recent film.

    We started by looking at the other top-grossing movies of 2015, and as shown in Figure 2, Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Furious 7 all show a similar trend in the time-evolution of the gender split as Star Wars. Figures 3 and 4 demonstrate that there is also a change in the average age of the audience and the proportion of avid moviegoers over time. This suggests that movie audiences do generally evolve, so we set out to investigate how to characterize this evolution and the factors that drive it.

    DO AUDIENCES EVOLVE?

    The opening night audience is three to four years younger than the Saturday

    and Sunday audiences.

    3-4YEARS YOUNGER

    2015 top grossing films show the same gender distribution trend as Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The male audience

    consistently decreases five to seven percentage points over the first three days.

    5-7 %PTSLESS MALE

    The opening night audience sees one to three more movies per year than the

    Saturday and Sunday audiences.

    1-3MORE MOVIES PER YEAR

    1 Hollywood Reporter, Star Wars Box Office: People Are Seeing it Three and Four Times

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/star-wars-box-office-people-851169

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    METHODOLOGY

    To characterize patterns in audience evolution over time, we use the data collected as part of the Movio Media research platform to analyze audience behavior for a set of ten of the twenty top grossing films of 2015. This platform aggregates data describing the demographics and moviegoing history of over eight million cinema loyalty members from a cross-section of cinema chains across North America.

    Because it is well known that loyalty program members are not generally demographically representative of customers (moviegoers) as a whole, we apply scaling weights to each member based on their age and gender so that the entire (weighted) set of members is distributed according to the demographic profile described in the latest MPAA Theatrical Market Statistics report 2. Once this weighting factor has been applied, it is straightforward to calculate the audience makeup for a film on a particular day. It should be noted that as this data is only for members of a loyalty program, it does not include moviegoers under the age of fourteen. This is the reason we do not consider films rated G or PG, as these younger moviegoers would be expected to make up a large portion of those audiences. However, this does not impact the broad conclusions that can be drawn from this study.

    METHODOLOGY

    2 MPAA Theatrical Market Statistics 2014

    http://www.mpaa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/MPAA-Theatrical-Market-Statistics-2014.pdf

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    METHODOLOGY

    AUDIENCE AND MOVIE SEGMENTATIONTo compare the behavior of different types of moviegoers, we divided the audience into six groups based on age (15-30 yo, 30-50 yo, 50+ yo) and gender. We chose not to use the standard industry quadrants for two reasons: first, our research has shown that there is a substantial difference between the behavior of moviegoers in their 30s and 40s and moviegoers in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, and second, the limited availability of data on moviegoers under the age of 14 means that there is substantially more information about moviegoers over 25 than under.

    While it is likely that each film genre exhibits a different pattern of audience evolution, the scope of this work is limited to blockbusters. To determine whether the target audience had an impact on the overall evolution, we considered ten movies from 2015, divided into three broad classes:

    1. Tentpoles: Jurassic World, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Furious 7

    2. Male-driven Blockbusters: American Sniper, Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ant-Man, Mad Max: Fury Road

    3. Female-driven Blockbusters: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2, Pitch Perfect 2, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Divergent Series: Insurgent

    We plan to consider the behavior of other audiences such as those for Oscar films, comedies, or adult dramas, in later studies.

    REPRESENTATION RATIOIn order to compare the behavior of different demographic groups, we need to introduce a concept were calling the Representation Ratio. The Representation Ratio is the ratio of the demographics daily proportion to its proportion of the total audience. The purpose of this quantity is to convey whether a particular demographic group is over- or under-represented on a particular day for a particular movie or group of movies. For example, 15-30 year old males make up 21.7% of Jurassic Worlds total audience, and they make up 33.5% of the audience on opening night. This is an over-representation of approximately 54%, for a representation ratio of 1.54 (33.5%21.7%). Similarly, on Day 21, 15-30 year old males make up only 14.1% of Jurassic Worlds audience, resulting in a ratio of only 0.65.

    In order to characterize the audience for each group of movies, we combine the audience for each movie in the group to create a single composite audience, and analyze the proportional representation of each demographic group within this composite. To eliminate the fluctuations due to weekends and holidays, we use seven day rolling averages rather than raw daily totals. Figure 5 shows the raw proportions for the 15-30 yo male demographic for each of the films above as well as the group composites, and Figure 6 shows the Representation Ratios. Note how considering the Representation Ratio rather than the raw proportions tends to collapse the lines for each film onto the average. To confirm that this works for other demographic groups as well, Figure 7 shows the same plot for women over 50 yo.

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    PAINTING AUDIENCE EVOLUTION PATTERNS

    DEMOGRAPHIC GROUP TRENDSWe first consider the evolution of the representation ratios for each demographic group for each set of movies. As shown in Figure 8, there are two groups, young men and older women, that behave consistently across all types of blockbuster. Whether or not a movie is targeted at them, young men are always overrepresented on opening weekend, and their share of the audience declines over time. The reverse is true of older women, whose share of the (decreasing) audience increases over time regardless of the type of movie. However, the remaining four demographic groups are more likely to be overrepresented on opening weekend if a movie is targeted at them. This effect is particularly strong among younger women, who are overrepresented by 10% on opening weekend for female-driven films but underrepresented by a similar amount for male-driven ones. Both men and women between 30-50 yo behave more like the average moviegoer in general, with men in this bracket slightly over-indexing early in the film runs and women over-indexing later.

    PAINTING AUDIENCE EVOLUTION PATTERNS

    Young men (15-30 yo) are consistently overrepresented on opening weekend,

    and their share of the audience declines over time.

    Young women (15-30 yo) are overrepresented by 10% on opening

    weekend for female-driven films but underrepresented by 10% for

    male-driven films.

    Blockbusters attract any moviegoer under 50.

    Older women (50+ yo) are consistently underrepresented on opening

    weekend, and their share of the audience increases over time.

    15-30 Y0

    15-30 Y0 15-50Y0

    50+Y0MEN

    WOMEN MOVIEGOERS

    WOMEN

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    PAINTING AUDIENCE EVOLUTION PATTERNS

    WEEKLY PATTERNSNow that we are reasonably confident in these broad trends for each age group, it is interesting to look at the daily fluctuations to examine any weekly patterns. Figure 9 shows the same information as Figure 8, but without the seven-day rolling average. Two very strong patterns can be observed. First, younger moviegoers (15-30 yo) over-index quite strongly on opening night and during cheap Tuesday promotions, and second, middle-aged (30-50 yo) moviegoers are best represented on Saturdays and Sundays. Interestingly, the distribution on Fridays appears to be close to the long-term average, and older visitors (50+ yo) do not appear to have any particular weekly preferences.

    OPENING NIGHT

    OPENING WEEKEND

    WEEK 2 WEEK 1

    TH FR SA SU MO TU WE FR SA SU MO TU WE TH

    15-30Y0

    30-50Y0

    50+Y0

    Days proportion high relative to total film audience

    Days proportion in line with total film audience

    Days proportion low relative to total film audience

    TH

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    PAINTING AUDIENCE EVOLUTION PATTERNS

    FREQUENCY TRENDSThese preliminary results are interesting, but marginal box office is driven by casual moviegoers (1-6 films annually), and there is reason to suspect that these evolutionary changes are driven primarily by avid moviegoers (12+ films annually). Next we consider how the proportion of casual moviegoers changes over time. Figure 10 shows the changes in representation ratio over time for casual moviegoers. Unsurprisingly, with the exception of young male (15-30 yo) attendance at tentpole films, casual moviegoers make a relatively larger percentage of the audience later in films runs. However, this is almost certainly due to the fact that avid moviegoer attendance has dropped off. In order to determine whether there is a pattern of attendance among low-frequency moviegoers, Figure 11 shows the evolution of the relative size of each demographic group compared to the population of casual moviegoers. Remarkably, the pattern that emerges is nearly identical to that seen in Figures 8 and 9, indicating that the same demographic trends hold regardless of attendance frequency.

    Finally, for completeness we consider the behavior of avid moviegoers. As Figure 12 shows, avid moviegoers, particularly young men (15-30 yo), are vastly overrepresented on opening night. This extreme (2-2.5x) over-indexing suggests that opening night may not be a good time to get a representative sample of the audience for a film.

    There are 2 to 2.5 times more avid moviegoers amongst young men

    (15-30 yo) on opening night.

    Avid moviegoers (12+ films annually) are overrepresented by 15% on

    opening weekend vs. the full films run.

    Opening night isnt representative of the audience

    for a film.

    The demographic distribution of casual moviegoers (1-6 films annually) evolves according to a similar pattern

    as moviegoers as a whole.

    2-2.5x

    +15%

    AVID MOVIEGOERS

    AVID MOVIEGOERS AUDIENCE

    CASUAL MOVIEGOERS

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    WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON SUTDIOS MARKETING PLANS?

    Due to the lack of data available, film studios have to make assumptions on audience composition based on titles deemed comparable and years of industry knowledge. The anticipated audience composition is the foundation of the whole marketing strategy and associated media plan of a film, most of the time pre-feature release. Sometimes audience targeting is done right, other times it isnt. Only an in-depth analysis of the actual movie-going audience of these comparable titles can support these assumptions. Moreover, in this new era of instant feedback, the main challenge faced by studios resides in their ability to react to the shift in audience composition post-release.

    Weve shown that there appears to be a pattern in the evolution of a blockbuster audience, where young male (15-30 yo) moviegoers are the most likely to be in attendance on opening weekend, and both teenage and older women are relatively more likely to go late in the run. The question is, how can this information be used?

    Should marketing campaigns be designed to reinforce this pattern, aiming to maximize the turnout of this core group of male moviegoers on opening weekend?

    Should campaigns be designed to combat this pattern, attracting less traditional demographics to the opening, and encouraging more 15-30 yo men to come later in season?

    How, if at all should the differences between high and low frequency moviegoers be treated?

    One possible strategy for exploiting the demographic patterns described above is as follows.

    HIT AND RUNFor movies that a studio expects to receive poor critical reviews, concentrate all marketing spending on attracting young men over opening weekend and the first Tuesday. Then, once the film has been out for five days, suspend the bulk of the marketing as it is likely that most of the potential audience has already seen the movie.

    DIVIDE AND CONQUERFor movies that receive a positive reception, the second week is an opportunity to increase marketing spend, particularly to non-traditional groups, such as women and older men, as these groups are more likely to attend a film in season. This will give the movie a chance to broaden its audience and attract a larger attendance than concentrating on the more traditional young male audience alone.

    The access to behavioral movie-going data is opening new territory to film studios and how they interact with their audience pre-release and in season.

    Now that we know all about the behavior of the audience of blockbusters, who wants to predict how the next tentpole will open and evolve over its release window?

    WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON STUDIOS MARKETING PLANS?

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    APPENDIX SUPPORTING FIGURES

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    APPENDIX > DO AUDIENCES EVOLVE?

    FIG 1. SHIFT IN GENDER DISTRIBUTION FOR STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS

    FIG 2. SHIFT IN GENDER DISTRIBUTION FOR THE TOP GROSSING FILMS OF 2015

    FIG 3. SHIFT IN AGE DISTRIBUTION FOR THE TOP-GROSSING FILMS OF 2015

    FIG 4. SHIFT IN AVERAGE FREQUENCY FOR THE TOP-GROSSING FILMS OF 2015

    Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens Jurassic World

    Avengers: Age of Ultron Furious 7

    % M

    ale

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    Ave

    rage

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    Days after release

    Days after release

    Days after release

    Days after release

    Days after release

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    0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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    APPENDIX > METHODOLOGY

    TENTPOLES MALE-DRIVEN BLOCKBUSTERS

    FIG.5 PROPORTION OF MOVIE AUDIENCES MADE UP OF 15-30 YEAR OLD MALES

    FEMALE-DRIVEN BLOCKBUSTERS

    Jurassic World Avengers: Age of Ultron Furious 7 Average

    American Sniper Mission Impossible - Rouge Nation Ant-Man Mad Max: Fury Road Average

    The Hunger Games: Mockinjay Part 2 Pitch Perfect 2 Fifty Shades of Grey The Divergent Series: Insurgent Average

    Au

    dien

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    Days after release Days after release Days after release

    0.35

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    7 14 21 7 14 21 7 14 21

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    APPENDIX > METHODOLOGY

    TENTPOLES MALE-DRIVEN BLOCKBUSTERS FEMALE-DRIVEN BLOCKBUSTERS

    FIG.6 REPRESENTATION RATIOS FOR 15-30 YEAR OLD MALES

    1.2

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    Jurassic World Avengers: Age of Ultron Furious 7 Average

    American Sniper Mission Impossible - Rouge Nation Ant-Man Mad Max: Fury Road Average

    The Hunger Games: Mockinjay Part 2 Pitch Perfect 2 Fifty Shades of Grey The Divergent Series: Insurgent Average

    Days after release Days after release Days after release

    7 14 21 7 14 21 7 14 21

    Rep

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    APPENDIX > METHODOLOGY

    1.4

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    TENTPOLES MALE-DRIVEN BLOCKBUSTERES FEMALE-DRIVEN BLOCKBUSTERS

    FIG. 7 REPRESENTATION RATIOS FOR WOMEN OVER 50

    Rep

    rese

    nta

    tion

    Rat

    io

    Jurassic World Avengers: Age of Ultron Furious 7 Average

    American Sniper Mission Impossible - Rouge Nation Ant-Man Mad Max: Fury Road Average

    The Hunger Games: Mockinjay Part 2 Pitch Perfect 2 Fifty Shades of Grey The Divergent Series: Insurgent Average

    Days after release Days after release Days after release

    7 14 21 7 14 21 7 14 21

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    MALES, 15-30 MALES, 30-50 MALES, 50-80

    FEMALES, 50-80FEMALES, 30-50FEMALES. 15-30

    Tentpoles Male-driven Female-driven

    FIG 8. EVOLUTION OF REPRESENTATION RATIOS FOR EACH DEMOGRAPHIC GROUP

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    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    7 7

    77

    14 14

    1414

    21 7 14 21

    7 14 21

    21

    2121

    Rep

    rese

    nta

    tion

    Rat

    ioR

    epre

    sen

    tatio

    n R

    atio

    APPENDIX > PAINTING AUDIENCE EVOLUTION PATTERNS

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    MALES, 15-30 MALES, 30-50 MALES, 50-80

    FEMALES, 50-80FEMALES, 30-50FEMALES. 15-30

    FIG 9. WEEKLY PATTERNS IN DEMOGRAPHIC REPRESENTATION RATIOS

    Rep

    rese

    nta

    tion

    Rat

    ioR

    epre

    sen

    tatio

    n R

    atio

    Tentpoles Male-driven Female-driven

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    12

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    7

    7

    77

    7 7

    0

    0

    00

    0 0

    14

    14

    1414

    14 14

    21

    21

    2121

    21 21

    28

    28

    2828

    28 28

    APPENDIX > PAINTING AUDIENCE EVOLUTION PATTERNS

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    MALES, 15-30 MALES, 50-80

    FEMALES, 50-80FEMALES. 15-30

    FIG 10. CHANGES IN REPRESENTATION RATIO FOR CASUAL MOVIEGOERS

    Tentpoles Male-driven Female-driven

    7 7

    77

    14 14

    1414

    21

    MALES, 30-50

    7 14 21

    FEMALES, 30-50

    7 14 21

    21

    2121

    Rep

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    nta

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    Rat

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    APPENDIX > PAINTING AUDIENCE EVOLUTION PATTERNS

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

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    MALES, 15-30 MALES, 50-80

    FEMALES, 50-80FEMALES, 15-30

    FIG 11. COMPARISON BETWEEN LOW FREQUENCY DEMOGRAPHIC GROUPS

    Tentpoles Male-driven Female-driven

    147 7

    7

    14 14

    14

    21

    7 14 21

    21

    21

    Rep

    rese

    nta

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    Rat

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    tatio

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    MALES, 30-50

    7 14 21

    FEMALES, 30-50

    7 14 21

    APPENDIX > PAINTING AUDIENCE EVOLUTION PATTERNS

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

    1.4

    1.3

    1.2

    1.1

    1.0

    0.9

    0.8

    0.7

    0.6

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    MALES, 15-30 MALES, 50-80

    FEMALES, 50-80FEMALES. 15-30

    FIG 12. CHANGE IN REPRESENTATION RATIO FOR AVID MOVIEGOERS

    Rep

    rese

    nta

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    Rat

    ioR

    epre

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    tatio

    n R

    atio

    2.5

    2.0

    1.5

    1.0

    0.5

    2.5

    2.0

    1.5

    1.0

    0.5

    2.5

    2.0

    1.5

    1.0

    0.5

    2.5

    2.0

    1.5

    1.0

    0.5

    7 7

    77

    0 0

    00

    14 14

    1414

    21 21

    2121

    28

    FEMALES, 30-50

    2.5

    2.0

    1.5

    1.0

    0.5

    70 14 21 28 28

    28

    MALES, 30-50

    2.5

    2.0

    1.5

    1.0

    0.5

    70 14 21 2828

    Tentpoles Male-driven Female-driven

    APPENDIX > PAINTING AUDIENCE EVOLUTION PATTERNS

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    Ltd

    .

    Movio is the global leader in marketing data analytics and campaign management software for cinema exhibitors, film distributors and studios. A company of Vista Group International Ltd (NZX/ASX:VGL), Movios mission is to revolutionise the way the film industry interacts with moviegoers. Movio maintains real-time, authoritative data on the loyalty activity and transactions for many of the worlds biggest cinema chains and captures the behaviour of over 32 million active cinema loyalty members worldwide. Movio Cinema, our flagship product, holds comprehensive marketing data covering 52 percent of cinema screens of the Large Cinema Circuit in North America (17,000 screens) and 25 percent globally (24,700 screens). Movio Media aggregates data across North America to provide film distributors and studios comprehensive market data on the behaviour of typical moviegoers, crucial audience insights and innovative campaign solutions. Movio operates in North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, China, and Southeast Asia.

    www.movio.co

    @MovioHQ

    www.linkedin.com/company/movio

    ABOUT MOVIO

  • Shaping the future of movie marketing