Variety says the following about the opening weekend for Avengers: Age of Ultron:

Roughly 59% of the audience was male, 41% was 25 years and older, 12% were teenagers and 22% were families.

I found out that there is a company called CinemaScore whose representatives hand out survey cards to opening-day moviegoers across the United States. The survey card asks for gender and age range (under 18, 18-24, 25-34, 35-49, and 50 & over), among other things.

So I think it's likely that Variety got their demographic data from CinemaScore (and they probably define "teenagers" to mean under 18). But I'm not sure how they know that 22% of the audience were families. The CinemaScore survey card doesn't ask for that information.

Where did Variety get the data that indicates 22% of the audience consisted of families?

1 Answer 1


I feel that it's a large assumption to conclude that Variety got their statistics from a particular company as they do note cite their sources within their article (that I can see). There are many companies that deal with this kind of surveying and while they will all ask a core set of questions (gender, age, ethnic background, etc) some of them will go into more detail than others.

A likely contender for where the particular statistics mentioned in the Variety article is PostTrak, by Rentrak/Screen Engine. Their methodology is the polling of a statistically significant portion of moviegoers - examples of the sort of statistics they collect and their methodology is discussed in this MPAA Theatrical Market Statistics 2014 document. This isn't specific to PostTrak either, this is generally how the system works regardless of whether you're talking about movies or games or laundry detergent.

Nielsen, who collect ratings for TV shows, call this "Audience Composition", but it is essentially demographic analysis. Short of counting and actively monitoring the people entering cinemas (which would be plausible but probably significantly more work than the value these figures themselves provide) all of these numbers are extrapolated.

This article on the Neilsen website: "Popcorn People: Profiles of the U.S. Moviegoer Audience" details the sort of breakdowns by demographic that audience measurement companies look for but also details their process for working out the numbers:

A two-stage study in which online, phone, and in-person surveys were conducted during August and September 2012 among more than 3,000 Americans aged 12-74, who were nationally representative of the U.S. population of moviegoers by age, gender, and race. “Moviegoer” is defined as someone having attended at least one movie in a theater in the past 12 months.

Another example within the industry would be Cinema Score, as mentioned within your question, who state that their process is basically the same as Neilsen's:

For over 35 years, CinemaScore has been polling moviegoers at major movie releases on opening night to collect demographic information and calculate a distinctive CinemaScore grade.

Followed by:

...while a movie critic only provides a single perspective on a movie, a statistically robust sample of a national audience offers a broader and more varied point of view.

Audience members fill out ballot cards right at the theatre, grading a movie A to F and providing demographic information.

What Variety are actually saying is "based on questioning a sample size of X and then extrapolating these numbers up to the estimated seats sold, roughly 59% of the audience was male, 41% was 25 years and older, 12% were teenagers and 22% were families."

  • I don't think a general demographic analysis like the one you cited can be applied to specific movies. Different types of people go to different types of movies. The CinemaScore survey would seem to provide the most accurate estimate for a specific movie. But I don't know where they got the family estimate from. That would seem to be highly dependent on the type of movie (e.g. whether it's Avengers or a romcom), so a general estimate of families among the population that go to the movies would seem to be a poor way of determining that. May 6, 2015 at 16:58
  • Sure but the system is still fundamentally based on "questioning a sample size of x", just that sample will consist specifically of people who've been to see Age of Ultron.
    – user5603
    May 6, 2015 at 17:03
  • If you have a 10 year old at a movie, you assume they're there as part of a family... Not sure how difficult that is to get.
    – Catija
    May 6, 2015 at 17:09
  • That and these ballot cards will usually have a specific "I came here with my family" option, or something from a multiple choice leading to that conclusion
    – user5603
    May 6, 2015 at 17:11
  • So you are saying an additional survey was done over the weekend - one specifically targeted to those who saw Age of Ultron and which asked if they saw it with their families? EDIT: Didn't see the last 2 comments. If you look at the CinemaScore card which I linked to, it doesn't ask for the family information. May 6, 2015 at 17:27

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .