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The Latest Study On Marvel And DC Movies Is Very Telling

It appears that Marvel and DC fans have slightly different preferences when it comes to how they get their respective fixes.

A new study examining the attitudes of Americans toward streaming vs. movie theater viewing revealed that Marvel Cinematic Universe aficionados are more likely than DC die-hards to catch the latest installment in the theater. 

The difference was relatively slight, but with millions upon millions of dollars at play each time a superhero tentpole picture hits screens, it's still pretty darn significant. Survey respondents were asked if they would consider catching the next installment of four popular franchises at home rather than in the theater, with those uninterested in any given franchise being excluded from the results. When it came to Mighty Marvel vs. the Distinguished Competition, 34% insisted that they would rather see the next MCU flick in the theater, as compared to 27 percent for the DC movie universe.

Again, those seven percentage points make a pretty big difference when you're talking about millions of moviegoers, and those numbers are suggestive of a couple different things. First, it's pretty obvious that Marvel Studios has utterly captured the hearts of fans, considering that a plurality of moviegoers of all ages would be willing to pay a premium to watch first-run films in the comfort of their homes (which we'll discuss more in a bit). The fact that the next MCU movie, whatever it might be, could entice fully a third of those who want to see it to head out to the theater even if they had the option to watch at home is pretty darned impressive.

Second, the Worlds of DC may have suffered a bit from the comparatively poor quality of its early offerings, but that doesn't mean that fans aren't still on board with what Warner Bros. and DC Films are cooking up next. With over a quarter of them preferring the theater experience over watching at home for the next installment, it's clear that there's still a great deal of goodwill toward the franchise; recent hits such as Aquaman, Shazam!, and Joker have probably helped quite a bit in this regard.

Oh, and we know what you're thinking: what about the other two franchises we mentioned? Interestingly enough, they also came down to a head-to-head match between Disney (the parent company of Marvel Studios) and Warner Bros., with Disney coming out on top. 34% of interested moviegoers — the same number scored by the MCU — asserted that the next entry in the Star Wars franchise would be a must-watch in the theater. (Lucasfilm is also owned by the House of Mouse). The final franchise in question: Warner Bros.-owned Harry Potter, which could draw 25% of its fans back to the theater with another installment.

Preparing for the Streaming Wars

These were just a few of the interesting tidbits of information yielded by the study, which took a broad view of the opinions of a wide cross-section of Americans regarding the convenience of streaming vs. the experience of theater viewing. Respondents were lumped into the categories of "Millennial," "Gen X," and "Baby Boomer" — and if you think you've got each age range pegged, you're likely to be shocked at some of the results. 

For example, when it came to the simple question of whether respondents would prefer to see new movies in general at home or in theaters, one might think that Millennials would be all about the streaming as compared to the other age groups — and one would be wrong. By far, Gen X respondents came down most heavily on the side of home viewing, with a whopping 73% saying that they would prefer to stream new releases.

As for the responses of Millennials and Boomers to the question, they were... we're sorry, let us just double check here... they were not that different. 61% of the former preferred home viewing as compared to 63% of the latter, and factoring in neutral responses, the percentage of respondents from each age group that straight-up preferred theater viewing was the same — 31%.

Regardless of age group, the survey's responses indicated that the forthcoming, so-called "streaming wars" are no joke. Everybody was in agreement as to their reasons for preferring home viewing; comfort, lack of distractions, and the fact that the Cheetos they buy at their neighborhood grocery store don't cost 15 dollars. 

Fully two-thirds of respondents also asserted that as streaming services proliferate in earnest over the next three years, they will definitely see fewer movies in theaters — even though slightly over half of those responding agreed that movies produced for in-theater viewing (as opposed to streaming originals) were generally more entertaining.

As to the franchise-specific question, though, one could argue that Disney and Warner Bros. should take very different things away from the responses. Disney would be well-served to keep doing what it's been doing, particularly as that pertains to the MCU; Warner Bros., on the other hand, could stand to double down on its recalibration efforts of the last couple years.

One final note: it'd be very interesting to see, with Marvel Studios planning to extend the MCU's tendrils to the small screen via soon-to-debut streamer Disney+, whether fans will be just as psyched to catch the next chapter in theaters in, say, two or three years. Marvel has consistently gotten butts in theater seats for over a decade, and the studio scored the highest-grossing film of all time just this year in Avengers: Endgame... but the times, as a wise man once said, are a-changin'.