Cinema attendance in Australia has increased rapidly over the last year with Australian women powering the increase as pandemic restrictions finally ended. Over 11.6 million Australians aged 14-plus visited a cinema in the year to March 2023, up by over 2.7 million (31 per cent) on a year earlier when there were still many pandemic-era restrictions.
The increase coincided with the release of several blockbusters over the last year including Avatar: The Way of Water, Top Gun: Maverick, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the Elvis biopic, Creed III, Magic Mike’s Last Dance, Scream VI, John Wick: Chapter 4 and Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
The growth in cinema attendance has been powered by the return of women to the cinema with over 6.1 million women attending the cinema in the last year – an increase of over 1.7 million (+39 per cent) on a year earlier. There has also been a large increase for men, up over 1 million (+23 per cnet) to 5.5 million.
Generation Z and Millennials comprise over half (56 per cent) of all cinema goers
Over half of all cinema goers, more than 6.5 million, are drawn from two generations – Generation Z (born 1991-2005) and Millennials (born 1976-1990).
Generation Z, now aged from 17-31 years of age, leads the way with more than 3.4 million people attending the cinema in the last year, up almost 600,000 (+21 per cent) from a year earlier. Close behind are Millennials of whom just over 3.1 million attended the cinema in the last year, up over 650,000 (+27 per cent).
The older generations also comprise sizeable cinema audiences with 2.4 million in Generation X (born 1961-1975) and 1.9 million Baby Boomers* (born pre-1960) attending the cinema in the last year.
Although clearly the smallest generation by number, younger teenagers in Gen Alpha (born 2006-2009) have had the fastest growth in percentage terms as we emerged from the pandemic. The number of people attending the cinema from this generation more than doubled to 795,000, up 477,000 (+150 per cent) on a year earlier.
High value premium audiences are the most likely to attend the cinema
Looking in detail at who is driving the increase in cinema attendance across the population, we can see that high-value premium consumers are more likely to go to the cinema than anyone else and the more premium the more likely to attend the cinema.
Roy Morgan classifies around a quarter of the Australian population as ‘NEOs’ – those Australians who spend more, more frequently, and recover from economic slumps first and fastest. Developed by social scientist Dr. Ross Honeywill ‘NEO’ stands for ‘New Economic Order’ the premium consumers most likely to keep spending despite high inflation and rising interest rates.
In the year to March 2023, 79 per cent of ‘Hyper NEOs’ (the top 10 per cent of NEOs) visited the cinema – up 14 per cent on a year earlier.
Close behind are the ‘Super NEOs’ (the top 50 per cent of NEOs) with almost three-quarters (74 per cent) attending the cinema, an increase of 12 per cent from a year ago.
Overall, 71 per cent of Australia’s 5 million NEOs attended the cinema in the year to March 2023 compared to just over half, 54 per cent, of the population – a significant difference of 17 per cent.
These results show Australia’s cinemas are a popular destination for Australia’s high-spending NEO consumers – the consumers who not only spend more, and more frequently, but are also the most resilient in the face of the economic downturns like we are currently facing.
Who are Australia’s 5 million NEOs?
Roy Morgan Single Source, the nation’s largest and longest-running database of consumer behaviour and attitudes, shows NEOs are 2.5 times more likely than the 10 million Australians with a traditional mindset to earn over $200,000pa and are three times more likely to be in the top decile (10 per cent) of wealth. They are also very big discretionary spenders in fact they spend three times as much as Australia’s traditional consumers.
Michele Levine, CEO, Roy Morgan Research, said the Australian movie industry is experiencing a rapid increase in attendance as Australians flock to the cinemas to see many newly released blockbusters hitting the big screen.
“Australia’s cinema and movie industry has powered out of the pandemic over the last 18 months and the number of people who have attended the cinema in the year to March quarter 2023 was over 30 per cent higher than the corresponding period a year earlier.
“Over 11.6 million Australians attended the cinema in the year to March quarter 2023 – up over 2.7 million (+31 per cent) from a year earlier, as Australians emerged from the pandemic-era restrictions were eased considerably around Australia.
“Women are driving the increases in cinema attendance with over 6.1 million women attending the cinema in the last 12 months – up an impressive 1.73 million (+39 per cent) in a year. The impressive increase for women is set to continue with the blockbuster movie Barbie, starring Australian actress Margot Robbie, hitting cinemas this week (Thursday July 20).
“The rapid increase in cinema attendance has occurred despite the new challenges of high inflation and rising interest rates we’ve experienced over much of the last year. When analysed by home ownership status the group to experience the largest, and swiftest, increase in cinema attendance was Australians ‘paying off their home’ – up by 40 per cent to over 4.4 million.
“The soaring attendance at cinemas should probably be no surprise given the many blockbusters released during the last 12 months including Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun Maverick – which both grossed over $90 million at the Australian box office – the two largest grossing films since Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released in 2015.
“A look at the age profile of Australians who attended the cinema in the last year shows solid increases across all age groups represented by the different generations. Generation Z and Millennials are the two key generations comprising over half (56 per cent) of all cinemagoers in the last year and representing people aged from 17-47.
“A key reason for the stunning revival in cinema attendance over the last year has been the high attendance of premium consumers – the high spending consumers who are the most resilient to the ‘economic turbulence’ we’re currently experiencing.
“Over 70 per cent of these premium consumers, known as ‘NEOs’, attended the cinema during the last year and honing-in on the ‘Hyper NEOs’ – the Top 10 per cent of NEOs, increases this rate of attendance to 79 per cent – nearly four-in-five – and an increase of 14 per cent points on a year earlier.
“A direct comparison between the premium NEO consumers and the average Australian shows that a typical NEO is over 30 per cent more likely to attend the cinema than the average Australian and Hyper NEOs are almost 50 per cent more likely to attend.
“The high attendance of premium consumers to Australia’s cinemas is a welcome sign with several highly anticipated movies in cinemas now or set to be released in the next few months. The big-budget films include Dune Part 2, The Marvels, Asteroid City, Oppenheimer, Barbie and the just released Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning: Part One.”