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Lights, Camera, Action! State of the LGBT Moviegoer

3 minute read | January 2014

From must-see movies to purchasing popcorn, people’s preferences at the theater differ depending on who you talk to—and that includes those who identify as part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. According to Nielsen’s State of the LGBT Moviegoer report, this group’s preferences for movie genres and moviegoing experiences diverge from those of their heterosexual counterparts.

Overall, LGBT moviegoers aren’t drastically different from other moviegoers. They see about the same number of movies as their heterosexual counterparts—roughly 6.8 a year. However, studios and theaters alike can bolster box office sales by identifying this group’s different cinematic preferences and tailoring their promotions and offerings to LGBT moviegoers’ entertainment needs.

Inside the Theater

LGBT moviegoers are more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to like movies in niche categories. When asked to identify their favorite genres, they were 27 percent more likely to select Horror and 17 percent more likely to select Sci-Fi. Meanwhile, they’re less likely to favor two of the more broad-market genres: Action/Adventure and Comedy.

And they like what they know: LGBT moviegoers are more likely to watch their favorite movies again and again. Three out of every 10 respondents reported seeing a new-release film in theaters more than once over the past year, making them 22 percent more likely to do so than heterosexual moviegoers. In addition, they were also 9 percent more likely to buy the DVD, Blu-ray, or digital download of a film they had seen in theaters.

Outside the Theater

A large portion of LGBT moviegoing experiences develop digitally. The group is 11 percent more likely than heterosexual moviegoers to have learned about a new film using the Internet, either using a computer or mobile device. In addition, LGBT moviegoers are also 21 percent more likely to purchase their tickets online.

The power and potential of word of mouth recommendations and social media buzz for films is also greater with an LGBT audience. Moviegoers from this group don’t just find movie times, locations, and trailers online—they also to text friends and post comments to social media about the movies shortly after they leave the theaters. In fact, 49 percent of all LGBT moviegoers said they had texted, tweeted or posted about the movie the same day they saw it (as compared with only 34% of heterosexual moviegoers).

Studios should take note of these trends, especially when promoting and advertising their titles that are likely to have a large LGBT audience. Theaters can meet the needs of their LGBT patrons and secure more box office sales by making sure their information and tickets are readily available online and accessible through a smartphone, whether through a mobile-formatted website or a smartphone app. This is particularly crucial for theaters in areas with a significant LGBT population.

LGBT MovieGoers’ Mobile Activity

LGBT moviegoers’ preference for smartphones—they’re 11 percent more likely to own such a device—plays a big role in how they interact with movies online. Forty-one percent of LGBT individuals who said they used the Internet to find out about movies used a mobile phone to do so, compared with only 31 percent of heterosexual moviegoers who found out about movies online.

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