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Who Goes to the Movies? Moviegoers Stats from 2010

by Melissa Silverstein
February 25, 2011 4:21 AM
6 Comments
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The annual look at who went to the movies from the MPAA has been released. Here are the relevant stats. Women and men go to the movies in equal numbers. In 2010 women bought 50% of the tickets and men bought 50% of the tickets.

Breaking it down:
• 222.7 million people went to the movies at least once in 2010 (in the US and Canada)- that's over 2/3 of the population, and the average amount of tickets purchased per moviegoer was 6.
• 35 million people make up the frequent moviegoers (which is people who go at least once a month). Men increased in all age groups of frequent moviegoers, but women still make up more of the frequent moviegoers in the 18-24 category.

This number is very important - Hollywood lives and breathes on the narrative that young men drive the box office. That is just not true. There were 4.2 million 18-24 year old female frequent filmgoers compared to 3.3 million male frequent filmgoers. Now clearly young women are going to the male centric movies because those dominate the theatres, but keep in mind that three out of the top ten grossing films of 2010 (Alice in Wonderland, Twilight Eclipse and Tangled), had a female at the center of the story.

So what do the numbers mean for women and film? Women went to the movie less in 2010 than in 2009 where they bought 55% of the tickets, but they still go in EQUAL amounts to male patrons. Numbers do not lie. Women and men buy tickets in equal amount and women made up 51% of the moviegoers in 2010 compared to 49% of men.

Other things to note:
• Total Worldwide Box Office - $31.8 billion
• US Box Office - $10.6 billion
• International Box Office - $21.2 billion
• International box office makes up 67% of the revenue.
• Boys under 17 go to the movies more than girls- no surprise. Most of the films for kids have male leads are targeted at boys.
• Women in the 25-49 categories go to the movies less than men but that shouldn't surprise anyone because we all know who does the lion's share of child care.
• Women and men 50 and up go to the movies almost equally.
• Women and men go to the movies by race in equal amounts except for Latinos.

Now you have the ammunition. Don't be a part of a false narrative. Help fight the misconceptions about who goes to the movies.

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More: MPAA, Statistics

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6 Comments

  • MRA | January 11, 2014 10:13 AMReply

    "young men drive the box office. That is just not true." -- Kind of hard to take your word for it considering this is a feminist site and biased..even if you are right the only stat that matters is the sales and the sales show male-centric movies wipe the floor over female centric movies. This war on men nonsense needs to stop. Men need women and women need men

  • Betty Kruger | October 2, 2011 1:40 AMReply

    OMG!!! Totally true!!!! I always have to wipe poop off of baby butts and breast feed 365 days a year and all my husband is good for is going to the movies!! UGGHHHH!!!!! This is so important thank you so much for righting this!! We need to STOP misconceptions about WHO GOES TO THE MOVIES!!! When you organize a 5K let me know!!!

  • Wendy | February 26, 2011 11:46 AMReply

    Hollywood needs to stop assuming that all women want the same thing. I'd rather go see IM2 with my husband and we both enjoy it than see SATC2 and neither of us enjoy it. Films should target both and especially the 25 and over crowd who make up the bulk of ticket buyers. I have a teenage son. When he wants to see a movie I buy him a ticket. Women make the majority of purchases for the family. Make a product that everyone wants.

  • M.C. | February 26, 2011 7:59 AMReply

    @ David: There's no reason to think that the average American woman simply enjoys male-centric movies more than female-centric ones.
    Maybe women just prefer action flicks like Iron Man over romantic road-trips like Eat Pray Love.
    If Iron Man had been Iron Woman and EPL had been about a man doing soulsearching, the box office probably would have been similar.

  • Jamie | February 26, 2011 3:11 AMReply

    In advertising they insist on aiming ads at teenage boys and swear that they control the market place. I'd tell them in meetings, I've never seen a teenage boy buy anything. You might want to target the ads at their mothers and girlfriends....I think it's the males in power passing the torch, making sure their younger selves stay the focus of attention. The media is conveying who is important in society and who is not.

    Frankly, I'd prefer that execs just focus on making good films for everyone. They've relied far too much on trying to please a so called target demo. It's an unstable business model.

  • David | February 26, 2011 12:04 AMReply

    "Now clearly young women are going to the male centric movies because those dominate the theatres..."

    That's a pretty reckless assumption. Last summer, more women went to go see Iron Man 2 than Eat Pray Love. I submit that the average American woman simply enjoys male-centric movies more than female-centric ones. The WNBA has been around since 1997 and has been bleeding money since Day One because their target (female) audience is too busy watching the NBA, MLB, and the NFL.

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