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Emerson College Survey Finds Audience Favors Joker for Best Picture

BOSTON – A nationwide survey conducted by Emerson College Polling measured moviegoers picks for the Academy Award for Best Picture of the Year. And the winner is… Joker, with 16% of the vote from a survey sample of 964 respondents.

Other other top choices included Little Women at 10%, 1917 at 9% and The Irishman at 9%. Rounding out the audience’s top 10 movies of the year were Once Upon a Time in Hollywood at 7%, Ford v. Ferrari at 5%, Parasite at 4%, Marriage Story at 3% and Jojo Rabbit at 2%. However, the largest portion of survey respondents—37%—were unable to choose their favorite film of 2019.


The findings seem to reflect the success of Joker, which is the first R-rated movie to earn more than $1 billion at the box office. However, they are at odds with popular expert predictions for 1917, Parasite, and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Moreover, some of the best predictors in Hollywood are the Producers Guild Awards, the Directors Guild Awards, and the Screen Actors Guild Awards. The top honors for the Producers Guild Award and Directors Guild Award went to 1917 and the Screen Actors Guild Award went to Parasite.

The survey also assessed how often people go to the movies or watch movies on streaming services. Interestingly, 83% of respondents attend the movies at least a few times a year and 83% watch movies on streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon or Hulu at least a few times a year. Although, most moviegoers attend the cinema just a few times a year at 46% while most streamers watch movies a few times a week at 34%.

Most significantly, the survey found that frequent streamers are the most likely to attend the cinema. Specifically, those who most attend the cinema from a few times a week to a few times a year consisted of 32% of those who stream movies a few times a week, 13% who stream once a week, 11% every other week, 8% every month, 2% every other month and 9% who stream movies a few times a year (see Exhibit 2 below).


Exhibit 2

“These results show that there isn’t a clear frontrunner in the Oscar race for Best Picture among the audience as well as the critics,” said Owen Eagan, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication Studies at Emerson College. “Also, in regard to how people watch movies, it seems that there is significant overlap between moviegoers and streamers which bodes well for the cinema industry.”


Caller ID

This Emerson College Polling survey was conducted January 21-23, 2020 under the supervision of Assistant Professor Spencer Kimball. The sample consisted of 964 respondents with a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points. The data was weighted based on U.S. Census data and was collected using both an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system of landlines and an online panel provided by Amazon Turk.


Key Takeaways
  • Results also show significant overlap of moviegoing and streaming audiences
  • Plurality unsure what best picture nominee is their favorite
  • Frequent streamers are the most likely to attend the cinema
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"These results show that there isn’t a clear frontrunner in the Oscar race for Best Picture among the audience as well as the critics, also, in reg...
Owen EaganSenior Lecturer at Emerson College
Contacts
Owen Eagan
owen_eagan@emerson.edu
781-831-2494
Executive-in-Residence, Emerson College Department of Communication Studies