By Nivedita Balu
(Reuters) – American audiences are back in theaters now that the pandemic is easing, but it is unclear whether families, a sizable slice of the audience, are as satisfied as they are watching movies in the comfort and safety of home .
Offering new movies to watch from the convenience of living rooms can overcome any craving for the big screen, an issue Walt Disney Co faces by shortening the gap between movie releases and Disney+ streaming service.
“It’s about ping pong from the movie audience to their TVs and vice versa. Disney obviously has an incredibly bright future. But it’s more complicated because the pandemic forever changes consumer viewing habits,” said Paul Dergarabedian, media analyst at Comscore.
Movie theater owners point out that the movie schedule is strong and that theaters are filling up.
“Watching movies at home was nothing new, but generally speaking, people want to come back… this is being proven every week at the box office when new movies that are really strong are coming out,” said Phil Contrino, director of media and research of the National Association of Movie Owners.
The Cinemark network noted that “highly anticipated popular appeal movies that appeal to families and adults alike” are running.
(By Nivedita Balu, Eva Mathews in Bengaluru and Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; additional reporting by Tapanjana Rudra in Bengaluru)
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