A million minutes of cinema to be gifted to the nation to help with post-lockdown wellbeing

Three in ten Brits have claimed to be feeling anxious after 16 months of lockdowns and restrictions, according to new research by Vue. 

A new year-long project in partnership with market research agency Kokoro, entitled The Fulfilment Report, will survey 2,000 people every week. While pre-pandemic research has highlighted the benefits of cinema1, Vue is investigating what the impact of lockdown and lack of big-screen film viewing and escapism has been on people’s fulfilment. It is the nation’s biggest ever study of cinema-goers and will monitor the trajectory of the nation’s wellbeing as restrictions ease and the positive impact of the big screen experience as life returns to normal. 

The initial findings show that 39% of cinema-goers have either returned to the cinema since reopening in May or intend to do so in the coming months. The research also found that these early returners are 22% more likely to have overloaded on social media over the last year than the general population, 19% more likely to struggle to get going in the morning, and 64% more likely to have felt unfocused at work. 

Positive impact on mental state

Two-thirds of cinema-goers also said that watching a film on the big screen would have a positive impact on their mental state that day. 

Dr. Punit Shah, Independent Psychological Expert collaborating with Vue, said: “People are clearly keen to engage in cultural activities, given the negative feelings brought on by the pandemic. It’s particularly striking that those who appear to have struggled more in the last year are keenest to get back to the cinema. This is unsurprising from a psychological perspective as cinema offers a way to engage in social events in a very structured and predictable environment that may not be as anxiety-inducing as more fast-moving events, like visiting the pub.” 

In response to these figures, Vue, which believes it is crucial people switch off and free themselves from the distraction of modern life, has launched its A Million Minutes initiative. Launching today, it will gift at least A Million Minutes of cinema to the public for the next two Mondays so that customers can enjoy the escapism provided by the big screen experience. 

Toby Bradon, General Manager for Vue UK and Ireland, said: “Over the last year, lives have changed a lot, however, that desire for total escapism and immersion is stronger than ever. We know that the feeling of being able to completely get lost in a great story has very real wellbeing benefits, and we want to be able to provide these to more people than ever for the next two Mondays with A Million Minutes, totally free. 

“As restrictions continue to be lifted, it will be even more important to take a minute to escape from daily stresses and worries, so we felt it appropriate to offer a million of them to our customers, who have been so enthusiastic to get back to the big screen experience since we reopened.” 

Fulfilment report

With lockdown restrictions easing, people are looking ahead, with the Fulfilment Report also finding 7 out of 10 cinema-goers planning to prioritise hobbies and interests and 83% making sure their mental wellbeing is looked after as a priority. 

While much of the population consumed a considerable amount of content on television at home during the lockdowns, those surveyed say they are one fifth more likely to recommend a film to a friend after seeing it at the cinema, 41% more likely to view a visit to the cinema as an event, 44% less likely to be distracted by their phone and 23% more likely to feel completely immersed in the story. 

Dr. Shah continued: “The appeal of the big screen that has come through in this research could be explained by the lengthened and more holistic experience offered than home viewing. Studies have shown that doing research on an experience (in this case, deciding what film to watch and when to go) can often be as rewarding as the experience itself, thanks to the great expectation provided by the heightened build-up.  

“There is also research showing that loud and immersive sounds heighten perceptual visual experience and the cinema is a great example of this in action. Finally, the afterglow and post-film discussion opportunities provided ensure that the experience lasts much longer than the run time itself.” 

Toby Bradon concluded: “At Vue we believe going to the cinema is about so much more than just the films. We believe that the seat, screen and sound all combine to make it one of the ultimate forms of escapism. The big screen is one of the few places that we can fully immerse ourselves, and not be distracted by the pings, alerts and other distractions that disturb our daily lives. 

“We hope through the work we are carrying out with Kokoro and with our panel of experts in film and psychology, we can really find out what makes people tick as the world opens up again, track just how far we have come in the next year, and ultimately provide a solution in the shape of the escapism and fulfilment provided by the big screen.” 

Vue’s first Million Minutes Monday will take place on 19 July, with customers able to apply for free tickets at millionminutes.myvue.com from 10 am Thursday 15 July to 10am Friday 16 July. Terms and conditions can be found at myvue.com/legal/terms-and-conditions#million-minutes.