A new Barna survey has found that evangelicals go to more movies than just about anybody.
If you’re a moviegoer, you might assume everyone goes to the movies. If 1.36 billion movie tickets sold in 2012, that means there were more than four movie tickets sold for every American. But, in actuality, a full 35% of the American population says they didn’t see a single movie in theaters in the last 12 months. And of people ages 67 and older, respondents report they’ve only seen, on average, 0.4 movies in the last year—meaning less than half of Elders set foot in the movie theater in 2012.
So who bought all those tickets? As you might expect, it was mostly young adults (i.e., Mosaics, ages 18-28) filling the darkened venues. Of that age group, the average Mosaic saw 3.4 movies in the theater over the last year—double the national average for all adults, which was 1.7 movies per person.
A big year at the box office was also a big year for at-home movies. With streaming, cheap rental options like Blu-ray, online renting and purchasing services like Apple TV and Amazon Instant Video, it’s become easier than ever to watch movies at home. In the past year, the average American adult has watched over 10 movies by DVD, Blu-ray, streaming or video. Once again, Mosaics watched about twice as many movies (20) as the national average while Elders only watched 3.7 movies in these ways. The other age groups fall somewhere in between (Busters see 10 movies this way and Boomers watch 16).
But, the numbers are nearly turned on their head when it comes to movies watched on cable, satellite or broadcast television. While Mosaics only saw 8.4 movies via TV in the past 12 months, Elders watched 12.2. And Boomers, or people between the ages of 48 and 66, watched, on average, over 15 movies on television over the last year.
How does a person’s faith affect their movie watching habits? Well, in terms of the amount of movies seen at the theater, evangelicals saw 2.7 movies at the movie theater in the last year, a full movie more than the national, adult average. In fact, the average number of movies evangelicals saw is bigger than any of the age groups except for Mosaics. The only faith group that saw more movies than evangelicals were people who didn’t identify with any faith—that segment saw an average of 3 movies per person in theaters over the last year.
So evangelicals go to more movies than just about any other group even though evangelicals probably also complain more about the movies than anyone else!
I have found that when evangelicals talk about influencing the culture, they tend to think of movies doing that, both for good and for ill, which makes them want to make movies of their own. Surely a good book or a good school or a good family does more to influence the culture, as such, than a piece of evanescent entertainment. (That’s the kind of movie most evangelicals watch, according to the study, rather than more serious films.) So this study explains a lot.
Also, though, the numbers seem quite small. In the 1930s, in the pre-television era, virtually everyone went to the movies. So going to three movies a year counts as a lot? There is a vast market, if filmmakers knew how to tap into it, far more potential moviegoers than the teenagers and twenty-somethings that everything is geared to now.