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The NYU Cinema Research Institute brings together innovators in film and media finance, production, marketing, and distribution to imagine and realize a new future for artist-entrepreneurs. 

Misanthropes should go to movies on Tuesdays


Misanthropes should go to movies on Tuesdays

Michelle Ow

CRI Blog Post 2 - Seinfeld

The movie theater business is a weekend-centric one. It’s no surprise that movie tickets sold on weekend (Friday to Sunday) are triple the number sold on weekdays (Monday to Thursdays). To better define what type of dynamic pricing this project will pursue, I dove into data about attendance by date. The trends of the past tend not to chart the course of the future, but I hoped the data would yield some clues.

There are two primary sources online – and I chose the former because the site also includes a cornucopia of data on attendance per title per date that will be helpful going forward. The data set is estimated tickets sold (top 10 gross divided by average ticket price) by day of the week from 2002 to 2013. Total estimated tickets is preferred, but since the top ten movies account for as much as 90% of total gross, most courts would say it’s a pretty solid dataset for industry trends. Here are the results:

CRI Post #2 Weekday Top 10
CRI Post #2 Weekday Top 10
CRI Post #2 Weekend Top 10
CRI Post #2 Weekend Top 10


Some takeaways:

-Ticket sales averaged lowest on Tuesdays. One of the most surprising trends is that over the last two years, ticket sales on Tuesdays have ticked up. It’s not clear if this is a shift from folks tired of wrestling with large weekend crowds.

-Ticket sales are highest on Saturdays, followed by Friday and Sunday.

-Monday and weekend attendance trends are fairly stable

-Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday trends show fluctuation and volatility (as confirmed by calculating standard deviation)

-Wednesday ticket sales have been the most volatile over the last decade.

If a dynamic pricing model does not cannibalize the preexisting audience, especially the weekend crew, a scheme focused on Tuesday-Thursday tickets for non-blockbuster event movies may capture extra demand. The goal and the big question remains: how can we grab those that hadn’t planned on going to the movie theater at all?