May 16 2022
Which movies will be bringing Gen Z and Millennials back to theaters this summer? We asked which upcoming releases they plan to buy tickets to see…
After the very-well-documented blows to the movie industry post-pandemic, young people seem to be heading back into the theaters. According to Comscore, domestic ticket sales for the first four months of 2022 are down 44% compared to 2019 (a.k.a. pre-pandemic). However, cinemas are seeing “significant gains” over last year, thanks to blockbuster releases like Disney and Marvel Studios Spider-Man: No Way Home, which led to a 338% increase in ticket sales from 2021—reaching $1.95 billion, and Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings bringing in millions of dollars globally. So far in 2022, Warner Bros. The Batman and Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 have brought in more than $300 million, while Disney and Marvel Studios’ latest flick Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness made more in its opening weekend in the U.S. than any other film this year to date. These big revenue reports indicate that heading into the theaters for movies is on the rise again. YPulse’s own data shows that the number of young consumers who are comfortable going to the movies in-person has increased from 28% in June 2021 to 46% in April 2022. Cinema chains around the world are also “going beyond studio marketing” encourage audiences to come into theaters. But ultimately, it will be the movies themselves that get young viewers excited to go, so which of this year’s hot summer movie releases are young people excited to see in summer 2022?
In our upcoming summer plans behavioral report, we asked 13-39-year-olds, “Which movies, if any, are you planning to buy tickets to see this summer?” Out of a list of 34 titles being released between May and October, here are the top titles these generations could turn into blockbusters in the coming months:
Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the top movie Gen Z and Millennials want to see…but they’re going to have to wait.
Before we dig into the list, the amount of young consumers who say they aren’t planning to buy tickets to see any movies this summer went down from last year, another indicator that movie business this summer will be better than 2021. And Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is the top movie that young consumers want to see…if they could. Unfortunately, shortly after this survey went into the field, it was announced that the release of the anticipated sequel to the 2018 animated hit is being pushed from October of this year back to June of 2023. Given the success of the first film, we’re sure that young fans will still be excited to see the sequel a year from now—but it’s a loss of one of the movies they were most likely to show up for. That said, it could be an opportunity for some of the competing titles…
But another Marvel title is next on the ranking.
Meanwhile, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness took the second spot for the movie that young viewers are excited to see this summer and, well, the proof is in the box office so far. The highly anticipated sequel is perhaps the first to kick off the summer movie season, and it’s dominated the box office two weekends in a row. We already told you that Disney and Marvel Studios’ releases from last year brought in a lot of money globally and given the connecting storylines from the MCU movies and Disney+ series, it makes sense that dedicated young fans have been excited to see the movie. Another factor that perhaps is drawing them in is the addition of Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maxioff / Scarlet Witch who generated a lot of hype last year, thanks to Disney+’s hit limited series WandaVision. Thor: Love and Thunder, another MCU movie title, is a movie young audiences are looking forward to watching this summer with Gen Z more likely than Millennials to say so.
Nostalgia is most likely a factor driving why Millennials are more likely to watch certain franchises.
However, it should be noted that Millennials rank Jurassic World: Dominion significantly higher than Thor: Love and Thunder and nostalgia could be a factor, especially given that it was announced that cast members from the original 1993 Jurassic Park movie were set to return. There’s also a significant difference between Gen Z and Millennial who intend to buy tickets for Top Gun: Maverick, another nostalgia-fest reboot. Millennials are much more likely than Gen Z to say they plan to buy tickets for this movie, which many of them likely grew up with. Looking at the rest of the list, popular franchise films and animated movies dominate the second half of the list.
BIPOC young consumers are fueling the return to movie theaters, especially for Marvel films.
But Gen Z and Millennials aren’t the only group we compared. When we looked at the movies BIPOC young consumers plan to go see compared to White / non-Hispanic young consumers there are also a few significant differences:
Before we dive into the movies, it should be noted that BIPOC young consumers are less likely than White / non-Hispanic young consumers to say they’re not planning to buy tickets to see any movies this summer. YPulse’s media consumption report from last year found that BIPOC young consumers were more likely than White/non-Hispanic young consumers to spend money on in-theater movie tickets, while the UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report shows that the majority of opening weekend audiences were people of color, signaling that BIPOC moviegoers were fueling the return to theaters.
When looking at the movies, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider Man: Across the SpiderVerse are once again a top movie that BIPOC and White / non-Hispanic young audiences plan to watch this summer, with BIPOC young consumers more likely than White / non-Hispanic young consumers to plan to watch the former film. The group is more likely to say they plan to see Thor: Love and Thunder as well, suggesting that BIPOC young fans are driving ticket sales for Marvel flicks. Most of the MCU titles have been including diverse and inclusive characters in recent years, which could explain BIPOC young viewers’ interest in them. In fact, YPulse’s Representation in Action trend research found that more than half of BIPOC young consumers say they have watched a TV show / movie because it featured a diverse cast or centered around their race / ethnicity. Clearly, BIPOC young consumers are driven to head to the theaters if they have diverse casts and leads.
YPulse Business users can access our upcoming Summer Plans behavioral report and data here on May 25th!
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