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Today's Topics

3 charts today covering:

  • The cinema industry may never fully recover from COVID-19, how will it adapt?
  • Parents are now the most common roommates for 25-year-olds in America.
Like so many other industries, the global movie business is having a hard time; the box office hasn't just slowed down a bit – it's completely faded to black.

COVID-19 is obviously the villain of the hour, but the industry was already under some pressure. We were surprised to discover that "peak cinema" – at least in terms of the number of tickets sold – was all the way back in 2002, according to data from The Numbers.

That drop in demand is masked somewhat by overall box office revenue numbers which look like they've been growing, but only thanks to ticket price inflation, which we estimate has outstripped overall inflation by about ~40% since 1995.

In some ways this may not be all that surprising. For years now, the humble cinema has had to compete with online streaming, better home TVs and sound systems. 

Cinema needed to go bigger, and it has

We've discussed in our previous newsletter "Breaking Up With Rom-Coms" how romantic comedy movies have almost entirely disappeared from the box office. But that begged the question, what picked up the screen time? Action & Adventure.
Why the explosion in popularity?

1) The cinema is becoming more of a luxury. People are going less frequently and when they do go they want to be blown away. Action and adventure movies that are built to thrill and excite get a lot more mileage out of the huge screen and loud speakers than a quaint but well-scripted drama, love-story or comedy.

2) Sequelitis. Franchised action & adventure movies are just a much safer bet for studios. Take your old heroes, insert new danger and peril and voila you have a flick that fans of your previous productions will probably enjoy. E.g. the 23 marvel movies.

The big test

What the box office needs to jumpstart it back to life is a huge blockbuster from a household name in the genre of action or adventure. Enter Christopher Nolan, whose resume includes The Dark Knight, Interstellar, Dunkirk and Inception, with his latest effort: Tenet (trailer here). Tenet could be the guinea pig for the entire industry with its release planned over the summer. If Nolan and a mind-bending adventure blockbuster can't get audiences back in the cinema, then not much else will.

As with so many other aspects of our lives, it feels like decades worth of cultural change is being crammed into just a few months. Our prediction is that the cinema going experience will become even more about the blockbuster experience, which honestly would be something of a shame if true. Maybe the drive-thru movie, or outdoor cinemas, can spark a revival?
In 1975, more than 60% of American 25-year-olds lived with their spouse. Last year it was only around 20%, according to data from Apartment List.

Meet the parents

The most common housemates for 25-year-old Americans are now their very own parents. Rising rent and housing costs, coupled with unstable job markets, have driven a lot of young adults back to the safety of their parents home.

This could go either way

Lots of cultural and societal trends are being accelerated by COVID-19, but on this one we're not so sure. We think it could basically go either way:

Either...

1) Having been cooped up with their parents for months on end, many young people find any way to move out and get their own place, possibly aided by falling house prices owing to a global recession.

Or...

2)
Having missed their family and parents so much, and with their jobs even more unstable, more young people move back in / stay with their parents.

Whichever it is, this chart is going to be really interesting to update in 2-3 years (so you'll have to stay subscribed until then).

Data Snacks


1) According to a survey of more than 16,000 employees, 55% have reported they are working more hours during the coronavirus pandemic, with only 25% saying they were working fewer.

2) In the wake of the ongoing Dominic Cummings scandal, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has seen his approval rating plummet from +19% to -1%, in less than a week. 

3) Shinzo Abe has approved a fresh package of economic stimulus for Japan to the tune of $1.1tn, hoping to stave off a deep recession for the world's 3rd largest economy.

4) SpaceX is set to launch 2 astronauts into space in their first ever manned mission at just past 4:30 EDT, live stream at nasa.gov.

5) Corner shops and smaller grocery stores in the UK have seen soaring sales – up 63% in the last 3 months.

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