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Movies are offering consumers 'a respite' from inflation: Analyst

Comscore Sr. Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the success of ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and ‘Jurassic World Dominion’, concession shortages, and the outlook for movie theaters.

Video Transcript

- But right now let's talk about the movies. Movie theaters are starting to show signs of life again. Hits like "Top Gun: Maverick" smashing records and getting moviegoers excited for more content. This weekend, speaking in which, "Jurassic World Dominion" debuts in the U.S. After already hitting $56 million in its early overseas release.

Here to discuss everything box office is Paul Dergarabedian. He's Comscore Senior Media Analyst. Paul, it's great to see you. It's been a minute, which I guess tells us something about what's been going on in the movie business, right?


- Yeah. So what's bringing people back here? Is it the content? Is it the comfort with being in a crowded theater? What's going on?

PAUL DEGARABEDIAN: I think it's a whole bunch of factors coming together at just the right time. So you have to have movies, right? So there have to be appealing movies in the theater. But you also have to have that studio confidence to put them there. And then beyond that, you need consumer confidence in as much as the consumers feel comfortable. I like to call them movie fans, not just consumers. But people want to go to the movie theater right now.

And so for example, "Top Gun: Maverick," just an incredible performance by that movie. The opening weekend that was the biggest Memorial weekend ever for that film. And then this past weekend, the film only dropped 29%, which is unheard of. That's the biggest or the best, I should say second, weekend drop for any film that opened with over $100 million. That means people are loving the movie, they're going back to see it, and the buzz is incredible on the film. It's approaching-- today it'll probably go over $600 million globally.

- So Paul, for part of the movie experience and if we're talking about the experience economy, perhaps the movie going experience is on that more approachable side for many consumers. But they're still going to see higher prices when it comes to concessions, when it comes to rounding out that full experience. I mean, if you're like me, you just sneak in your Chipotle burrito into the theater and you're OK.

PAUL DEGARABEDIAN: Oh, there you go. I'm not doing that. But here's the thing, inflation is definitely affecting everyone. Look at gas prices and everything else. I know you've talked a lot about this on your air. But when it comes to movie going, it offers a respite from all that. And I would argue that even at, let's say, $10 a ticket if you love that movie then the price consideration when you walk out you're like that was worth every penny. I just saw trailers for "Jurassic World Dominion" or "Light Year" or "Elvis" or "Nope" or "The Black phone" or "Minions," all these movies that are coming up in the next few weeks, including "Thor: Love and Thunder."

And you're going to say, I'm going to go back. And also, "Top Gun: Maverick" brought in a lot of the more mature moviegoers according to our Comscore data. So that's a good thing. We thought we wouldn't get those more mature viewers back because they might have been more reticent, I should say, to go back to theaters due to health concerns. But that seems to be waning when you look at these numbers.

- Paul, I bought tickets to see "Top Gun" later this week. $20 a ticket. Just staying on the pricing aspect, how much further could ticket pricing go before consumers just say, you know, what "Jurassic Park," I am not going.

PAUL DEGARABEDIAN: That's a great question. Because there's always in somebody's mind a price point where they're like, that's it. That's a bridge too far. I'm not going to pay that amount of money. But when you go to a movie like "Top Gun: Maverick" for 20 bucks a ticket, that does sound like a lot when you add on food and all the other alcohol sometimes. It can get rather expensive.

But compared to other outside of the home activities, it's actually a bargain. And by the way, if you can go flying a jet with Tom Cruise for 20 bucks, that seems like a pretty good deal to me. But in all seriousness, it is a consideration. Price always is, but people generally go to a movie not based on price but based on emotion. They see the trailer, they see Tom Cruise with James Corden flying around in a jet. And they're like, I got to be a part of this otherwise I'm going to miss out on the big social conversation.

- Oh, maybe I got to get my tickets. I haven't gotten to see the movie yet, Paul. We were talking about also concessions and things you are buying additionally at the theater. And apparently, I put it on the list of all the shortages that we've seen, there's a popcorn shortage too. So I mean, I wonder is that going to ding the movie experience if popcorn is already very-- I mean, the markup on popcorn is insane.

PAUL DEGARABEDIAN: Say it isn't so that popcorn is in short supply, because it is a big part of that movie going experience. And I think it was Fandango just did a survey talking about that. People say popcorn tastes better in a theater and it makes the movie better really. So it's about that whole experience. And I commented on that in that story about the way people feel about concessions. So it's about the movie, it's also about the experiential part.

Like what am I doing? Am I getting my popcorn? It's the one sound in a theater that's probably cool to make is that crunching on your popcorn because everybody gets that's a big part of the experience.

But go see "Top Gun." It's so good. I mean, the reason it's holding up so well, around the world by the way, it's almost a 50-50 split. It's going to be about $300 million domestically US and Canada, another $300 million so far internationally. So that's $600 million plus and it's still going.