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1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 148 (128)

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition
1950-51 Theatre Catalog
1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 148
Page 148

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 148

Second Annual Drive-In Audience Survey

Detailed Poll of Typical Metropolitan Area Group Reveals Basic Traits of All Outdoor Theatre-goers

Drive-in theatre operation in the United States has, by the 1950-51 season, progressed to the point where significant trends can be segregated, verified and analyzed. Although still in the exciting process of ffgrowing upf, drive-in exhibition now represents such an important share of theatre business, and such a large investment (between 100 and 200 million dollars), that the exhibitor and the entire motion picture industry have found it wise from time to time to pause and take stock of themselves.

Drive-in theatres, over 2,000 strong, now represent about 15% of all theatres, and account for approximately 20% of all grosses. As such, drive-ins must be managed intelligently and with regard both to the interests of the public and the farsighted businessmen who have invested in these theatres. To insure long and continued success in a new era of competition for the publicls interest, the drive-in exhibitor cannot neglect to recognize the intrinsic character of his audience, its true likes and dislikes, habits and preferences.

By pausing to examine his theatre and its operating, booking, and advertising

BRIEF: Published as a natural sequel . . . to the authoris first authoritative survey on. the habits and tastes of a typical metropolitan. drive-in audience . . . which appeared on pp. 196-200 of the 1949-50 Edition of THEATRE CATALOG . . . this second analysis of the Minneapolis-St. Paul marketing area again reveals who the driveein patrons are . . . and the importance of their characteristics in setting policies for outdoor exhibitors to follow.

The findings . . . painstakingly compiled from many hours of scientific polling . . . are presented first under the five general categories . . . per our audience, source of patronage . . . frequency of patronage . . . product preferences . . . and consumer opinion . . . into which the survey has been subdivided . . . These facts and figures are followed by an expert analysis of their significance in each case . . . Throughout the text . . . wherever feasible . . . the findings and trends apparent in this 1950 survey are compared . . . and constrasted . . . to those found in the 1949 poll.

It seems quite reasonable to assume . . . under relatively equal conditions . . . that the feature traits of the particular audience discussed would probably hold true for those in many other drive-in. drawing areas throughout the country . . . since people are basically the same everywhere . . . The results of this survey are . . . therefore . . . more than worth the attention of every drive-in showman . . . from Maine to Florida and California.



. Film Merchandising Consultant and Associate Professor of Marketing Las Angeles State College


FIGURE 1. Average number of cars with children and average number without children in 1950 (open graph) as contrasted to 1949 (shaded graph).

policies from an entirely new standpoint, that of the typical audience, the drive-in exhibitor will not only be following the practice of a large segment of profitable U. S. industry, but also will obtain both a helpful index by which to measure his own operations and an objective appraisal of the strong and weak points *the potentialities and shortcomings of drive-in theatres in general.

As a result of the tremendous interest generated by the 1949 drive-in survey,


FIGURE 2. Average number of adults per car and average number of children per car in 1950 (open graph) as contrasted to 1949 (shaded graph).

conducted by the author and published in the.1949-50 Edition of THEATRE CATALOG, a similar, but even more comprehensive, drive-in audience survey was conducted during July and August of 1950, and is herein published exclusively by THEATRE CATALOG.

The Minneapolis-St. Paul marketing area, commonly called the Twin Cities and used by many national organizations for sampling and market research, was again selected for study in order to provide reliable and comparable data. This metropolitan area of over one million population is served by six suburban, subsequent-run driveein theatres. As a result of the active cooperation of these theatres, North Central Allied, and the University of Minnesota School of' Business Administrationfs tabulation laboratory, which processed and tabulated the questionnaires, it is possible to present to the industry the most comprehensive such survey ever conducted.

The drive-in patrons in over 2,000 cars, selected at random from all theatres, on all days of the week, all weeks of the month, and for all performances, were questioned on 18 key points which were carefully selected after discussions with theatre executives, research groups, and pre-tests. Thus, while the findings encompass the actual responses of some 5,000 adults, it is possible, because of the sampling techniques used, to assume that the same typical responses would be obtained from a considerably larger group under equal conditions.

The findings and their significance have been arranged under five general headings: per car audience; source of patronage; frequency of patronage; product preferences; and consumer opinion. The direct findings in each of these fields will be presented as briefiy as possible, and will be followed in each case by an analysis of their significance. Wherever comparable, the 1950 figures will be immediately followed, in parentheses 0, by the 1949 figures.


Findings 1. 54% (55%) of the cars contained children.

2. 46% (45%) contained only "adultsli (12 years of age or


3. There were 2.48 (2.34) adults per car.

4. There were .97 (.94) children per car.

5. 24.2% (25%) of all cars contained one child.

6. 19.5% (19%) contained two children.

7. 7.3% (7.0%) contained three children.

8. 2.3% (2.0%) contained four children.

1950-51 Theatre Catalog, 9th Edition, Page 148