Market Force study on consumer's favorite movie theaters

Better discounts and seating would entice more people into theaters

Peachtree Corners, Ga., Sept. 20, 2018 — Despite the growing popularity of Netflix and other streaming services, consumers are still frequenting movie theaters, particularly ones that offer an elevated and memorable experience for moviegoers. In a new large-scale study, Market Force Information found that more than 52% of consumers go to a movie theater at least once a month, and that Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is their favorite theater chain.    

Nearly 13,000 people participated in the study, which uncovered movie-watching trends, ranked the top theater chains and revealed which customer experience attributes help certain theater chains stand out from the rest.  

Alamo Drafthouse Nabs No. 1 Ranking

Austin, Texas-based Alamo Drafthouse, a smaller theater chain that’s grown a dedicated following for its     in-seat bar and food service and its strict rules around theater etiquette, ranked as consumers’ favorite theater chain. It earned a score of 72% on the Composite Loyalty Index, followed by Harkins Theatres in second with 68% and Marcus Theatres in third with 64%. Landmark Theatres, an arthouse movie chain that Amazon was rumored to be eyeing, scored fourth with a 60% score.

Graph 1: Favorite Movie Theater Chains

When the rankings were broken out by generation, Market Force Information found Alamo Drafthouse ranked highest among millennials, Regal Entertainment among Gen X and Your Neighborhood Theatres among baby boomers.

Alamo Delivers Best Service, Marcus Best Seating

Market Force Information also examined how the top theater brands fare in customer experience categories that matter most to moviegoers. Alamo Drafthouse is a clear leader for its box office and ticket collector service, and it also led in delivering a good value for money spent. However, it trailed in the convenient location category, likely given that it has fewer than 50 theaters in the United States. Marcus Theatres took the top spot for its seating options, Landmark Theatres for its movie offerings and Studio Movie Grill for its show time selection. On the flip side, Cineplex Entertainment ranked at the bottom in more than half the categories. 

Graph 2: Movie Theaters Ranked by Attributes

Who Wins at Concessions

Market Force Information looked at the customer experience in movie theater concessions as well, finding that 76% of moviegoers purchased food or beverages during their last theater experience. Alamo Drafthouse had the most concessions visits, followed by Harkins Theatres and Marcus Theatres. Alamo Drafthouse also clearly led in all of the food and beverage-related rankings, such as variety, taste and value. In the important value category, Studio Movie Grill ranked second, and Your Neighborhood Theatres and Harkins Theatres tied for third.

Graph 3: Movie Theater Concessions Rankings

How and Where People Are Viewing Flicks

Although more than half of consumers studied report watching at least one movie per month in the theater, and recent comScore data shows North American ticket sales were up 14% this summer, consumers are still largely viewing movies in other settings. The study found that 76% viewed a movie somewhere other than a theater at least once a month. Home continues to be the favorite place for movie-viewing. Of those who said they watch movies elsewhere besides the theater, 96% watch them on their TV at home and nearly half (48%) watch them on their mobile phones.

Additionally, in the past 90 days, 79% reported streaming a movie and 57% watched one from a disc or tape – 82% on DVD, 61% on Blu-Ray and 9% on VHS.

“With so many options available to consumers, theaters need to do more to entice people to leave the comfort of their homes and spend their movie-viewing dollars with them,” said Ray Walsh, CEO of Market Force Information. “Brands such as Alamo Drafthouse are ahead of the game in understanding that it’s imperative to deliver a unique and memorable customer experience to get consumers off their couches and into a theater chair.” 

Convenience and Price Matter, But So Does Seating

When asked why they chose to watch a movie at a particular theater versus another, 61% pointed to convenience. However, it wasn’t the only influence. The type of seating available was also important, ranking second on the list with 32%. One in five also appreciated the ability to reserve seats and purchase tickets in advance of the movie. 

Graph 4: Why Consumers Choose One Theater Over Another

Market Force Information also asked consumers what might lead them watch more movies in a theater. Nearly three out of four identified ticket price as the top motivator, but also called out other cost considerations such as concession prices and availability of coupons or discounts. More comfortable seating was the only non-cost related factor to rank in the top five. 

Graph 5: Factors Influencing Theater Frequency

The Battle for Movie Theater Loyalty

Loyalty is fairly lackluster in the movie theater industry, with just over half of consumers saying they are loyal to a particular brand. Marcus Theatres and Cineplex Entertainment have the most loyal consumers, with the majority of those surveyed saying they visited the brands almost exclusively in the past year. Additionally, Marcus Theatres has the most popular loyalty program, followed by Regal Entertainment Group. 

“Even though MoviePass largely failed to deliver on its promise, it was a wake-up call for many theaters to make loyalty a priority if they want to beat the competition,” said Walsh. “We’re now seeing AMC, Alamo and others jump on the subscription service bandwagon as an alternative to the industry’s more traditional loyalty programs that are seldom used.”   


For the favorite theater rankings, Market Force Information asked participants to rate their satisfaction with their last experience at a movie theater, and their likelihood to recommend that theater to others. Only brands with 100 or more reviews were included in the rankings. The results were averaged to rank each brand based on a Composite Loyalty Index score.

Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted online in August 2018 across North America. The pool of 12,896 respondents reflected a broad spectrum of income levels, with 54% reporting annual household incomes of more than $50,000. Respondents’ ages ranged from 18 to over 65. Approximately 72% were female and 27% were male.

About Market Force Information
Market Force Information® is a customer experience (CX) management company that provides location-level measurement solutions that help businesses protect their brand reputation, delight customers and make more money. Solutions include customer experience surveys, employee engagement surveys, mystery shopping, contact center services and social media review tracking, which are integrated into one technology and analytics platform, KnowledgeForce®. Founded in 2005, Market Force has a growing global presence, with offices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France and Spain. It serves more than 200 clients that operate multi-location businesses, including restaurants, major retailers, grocery and drug stores, petro/convenience stores, banking & financial institutions and entertainment brands. The company has been recognized as one of the top 50 market research organizations in the AMA Gold Report. For more information about Market Force, please visit us online at


Date: Thursday, September 20, 2018

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