Two thumbs up? How movie-goers rate their experience during blockbuster weekends

Derrick Cline | May 21, 2019 Derrick Cline 05/21/19

Spoiler alert: I’m not a film critic. I’m not here to tell you if The Avengers: Endgame was a good or bad movie—if the plot was flawed, if the characters were underdeveloped, or if the story resonated with the audience. You can go to Rotten Tomatoes for that. But what I am is a reviewer of the customer experience. I wanted to see how movie theaters stacked up on opening weekends of major blockbusters—did they deliver an epic experience or were they a major letdown?

To get a read on what movie-goers thought of their in-theater experience, we turned to our market intelligence tool BrandGeek®–the fastest, most accurate read of behavioral data linked to customer feedback in real time. Here are a few things we discovered:

Higher traffic doesn’t always mean lower satisfaction

Across all industries—restaurant, retail, entertainment, etc.—we typically see a drop in Overall Satisfaction scores when traffic increases. So it would be easy to assume that on these premiere weekends—when more people are flocking to the movies—scores would decline. But we found this isn’t always the case.

When we compared the change in traffic and Overall Satisfaction (OSAT) from opening weekend to the prior weekend for 8 major motion pictures, only half saw a drop in OSAT.


Opening weekend of The Avengers: Endgame saw an increase of 268% in box office revenue, so a 4-ppt drop in OSAT isn’t incredibly surprising. But when you look at the franchise’s earlier release, Infinity War had a 150% jump in revenue but increased OSAT by 6 ppts.

Theaters have numerous operational challenges when they get a big influx in traffic—but our data shows this isn’t an excuse to fall short on customer expectations.

Customers who buy their tickets online are more satisfied

A lot of factors and touchpoints affect the customer experience, and when it comes to the entertainment industry, it typically starts with a ticket purchase. And our data shows that customers who buy their tickets online are 3.5 ppts more satisfied on average than box office customers.


Yes; in-theater factors matter very much. You can’t fall short on things like cleanliness, quality of concessions, or seat comfort. But you also can’t ignore the part of the customer experience that happens before a guest steps inside. All prior transactions make a big difference, too. Make sure your online ordering system is user-friendly and seamless, and that you increase staff for popular premieres to alleviate longer wait times.

IMAX customers are less satisfied with value and overall experience

We understand—value is a convoluted measure. And it’s even harder to isolate when it comes to movies, as there are so many different factors to consider, several of which are out of your control. If a customer simply didn’t like the movie, you may get dinged for value. But what we found is customers who opt for the upcharge and purchase IMAX tickets for an enhanced experience have even higher expectations when it comes to value. And when it comes to opening weekends, their expectations are more elevated.


Even though you can’t control every aspect of a customer’s movie-going experience, you need to ensure that your equipment and facility don’t disappoint. Movie tickets aren’t cheap—especially for a specialized viewing experience—and customers have high standards. Make the right investments so those customers leave highly satisfied—even if the movie itself was a letdown.

Opening weekends are a great opportunity to win customer loyalty

It’s not a huge shock that opening weekends draw in more infrequent visitors—our data shows that 44% of guests had not been to the movie theater within 30 days prior to opening weekends. They’re also slower to return. Again, some of this is out of your control. But that doesn’t negate the opportunity you have when a major blockbuster draws in a crowd. If you deliver on customer expectations and provide an exceptional experience, you have an opportunity to convert some of those infrequent customers into regular movie-goers.

To learn more about BrandGeek and how we got the data, check out our short video here.

Derrick Cline | Consumer Insights Manager
Customer Experience Update