How American Theaters Influenced Anime Screenings


There is a problem with determining the root cause behind why the number of U.S. theater and cinema sites are declining (NATO, 2018). Despite the pervading theory that expensive ticket costs generally dissuade people from attending theaters and cinemas, the introduction and popularity of video streaming programs has been offered as one explanation contributing to the decline of U.S. cinema sites. For instance, according to a report from PWC, in 2019, video streaming services – such as Netflix and Hulu – will surpass traditional cinemas in terms of revenue, and video streaming services are projected to double in revenue from 2014 to 2019 (from .

4 billion to $16.54 billion) (Zipin, 2015). This problem has negatively impacted the film industry – more specifically, the local theaters and cinemas – because technology is perceived to serve as a better alternative and tool of entertainment for watching videos.

A possible solution to this problem is not to compete against the thriving video streaming programs (VSPs) but to adapt to what cemented the success of VSPs in the short run – content.

Recently, there has been a diversification of entertainment displayed in the form of different genres of content people can view; more specifically, the genre of anime has been globalizing across the Western hemisphere. Yet, a scarcity of anime content projected as movie films still persists in local American theaters (even though it is the sort of content that movie theaters should acquire to attract more of its younger consumers – with its cute art style, wide variety of genres and plot lines, deviation from the canon of Western literature, and new cinematic experience).

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Perhaps a study which investigates how frequently featuring popular anime series as movie film adaptations can influence the development of local American theaters by an explanatory sequential mixed methods design could remedy this problem.

Literature Review

Studies of the development of the theater industry tend to measure a theater’s projected growth from a business perspective. An overwhelming majority of the studies analyzed the economic state of theaters by measuring the gross revenue, box office revenue, ticket sales, ticket prices, and movie attendance rates of theaters. For instance, in 1997, moviegoers in New York were opposed to the price of movie tickets in local New York theaters (Jacobs and Nashawaty, 1997). The price skyrocketed to nine dollars, so moviegoers were essentially paying approximately double the average annual price of U.S. movie tickets in 1997 (which was $4.59) (Corcoran, 2018). Movie theater chains are setting exorbitant prices for their customers to pay, and this trend has continued to persist into present-day.

Theaters claim they are charging exorbitant prices for tickets to resolve the rising costs of running and maintaining their resources (such as their new laser projectors, immersive speakers, fluorescent lighting, and high-definition screens/displays) and to fund major movie studios (such as Universal Studios). While various underlying assumptions subsists to explain the ulterior motives for theaters to drive ticket prices higher, higher ticket prices ultimately drive and deter moviegoers away from attending movie theaters often. The decline in movie attendance is indicated by the decrease in U.S. Admissions from 1.4 billion in 2007 to 1.3 billion in 2016 (Theatrical Market Statistics, 2016). The number of U.S. Admissions, or tickets sold, has diminished in recent years. Admissions is a prime indicator of affluence and popularity in the theater industry. This statistic essentially demonstrates that less moviegoers are attending movie theaters, and less people are interested in movie theaters altogether.

Many studies have established that a generic relationship and possible correlation exists between the growth of the movie industry and the popularity of competitors in the entertainment industry, but only a few studies have analyzed how those competitors and the digital age impacts the theater industry. For instance, in 2016, many theater chains in the U.S. refused to display Netflix’s original movies because they think Netflix’s production of original content will disrupt their own movie releases and customer base. However, iPic, a luxury theater chain, decided to collaborate with media conglomerate Netflix and showcase Netflix’s content on their movie screens (Holmes, 2016). The theater has always been viewed as a traditional form of entertainment.

However, due to constant advancements in the field of technology, theaters tend to compete with alternative sources of entertainment that utilize the new technology – such as video streaming programs (VSPs) – over customers. In recent years, Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, and other VSPs have dominated the video entertainment industry because of the various advantages they offer to consumers. They offer instant viewing of videos, inexpensive access to videos, subscription services to watch an extensive and exclusive line of premium videos, and a wide variety of videos for consumers to watch at their convenience. It is generally perceived that VSPs ultimately deter consumers from seeking their entertainment from theaters by enticing them to watch videos from the convenience of their own home and electronic devices. In this competitive entertainment market, many theaters start comparing themselves to their competitors. Some theaters will try to contest their competitors, while other theaters will try to adapt to the factors that contributed to the growing success of VSPs. Nonetheless, there is always room for improvement in the very foundation theaters were established upon: content.

There has been a relative aggregate of studies that specifically examined the effects of implementing anime into different cultural pieces of media (television, DVDs, libraries, art, music, etc.). Most people tend to watch anime either from a VSP (such as Crunchyroll), at anime conventions, or at film festivals. One of the most historical and prominent displays of anime content in the U.S. occurred at the Big Apple Anime Fest in 2002 – the first major anime convention in New York. This was when one of the most popular anime series of all time was finally introduced as and adapted into an anime film. The world premiere of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie attracted thousands of anime fans from across the U.S., and tickets for the convention was sold out in seconds (McKinley, 2002). People traveled over 200 miles to attend this event. Anime fans even bought tickets from other anime fans for four times the original price. While the viewing of this sci-fi thriller only lasted for three days, this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for anime fans to watch this exclusive, never-before-seen content of their favorite anime together. Essentially, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie spurred the globalization of anime within the United States and brought the anime community together. Locally, anime fans have been deprived from watching their favorite anime content because animes have been scarcely displayed as limited, exclusive, short-term films at conventions and festivals. Only recently have glimpses of anime films been featured in theaters.

In July of 2017, Crunchyroll hosted its second Crunchyroll Movie Night in 300 movie theaters across the United States and debuted a world premiere screening of a long-awaited and highly anticipated anime series, The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Kenny, 2017). Crunchyroll chose to debut this anime because of its beautiful visuals, fluid animations, lovable characters, adventurous and romantic plotline, expressive soundtrack, and its whimsical, magical, and fantasy setting. The anime received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback from local moviegoers and accentuated the face-to-face interactions that the passionate anime community was able to experience at tangible places like movie theaters, even if it was only for one day.

Overall, these existing studies are limited in their assessment of the application of anime in relations to the business of movie theaters through an obvious and often overlooked aspect that movie theaters are dependent on: content. The substitution and addition of anime as movie content remains an interesting topic of inquiry.

Hypothesis: I initially hypothesized that frequently promoting and featuring anime content in local theaters could help theaters thrive more – in terms of popularity and revenue generated – in the competitive video entertainment market. This hypothesis was developed based on examining studies concerning the background and various applications of anime in today’s contemporary society. These studies highlighted a positive correlation between the exclusive screening of animes in theaters and their short-run success in increasing theater attendance and box office revenue. So, depending on the type of content released and screened in theaters, people would be more willing to attend movie theaters – despite having access to video streaming programs. If anime content helps boost the development and productivity of theaters in the short-run, then I believe that the application of additional and extended anime content in theaters would only facilitate the growth of local theaters in the long-run.


This study will address elements of anime series that could contribute to the development of local American theaters. The purpose of this explanatory sequential design will be to first collect quantitative data and then to explain the quantitative results with in-depth qualitative exploration of a small sample and feature. In this explanatory design, the tentative plan is to analyze the impact anime could have on local American theaters and their movie film adaptations and to provide a more complete understanding of how the development of local theaters revolve around their production of specific screenings/content. While applying this type of method to a research is challenging, this type of method remains as an unorthodox yet vastly informative way for conglomerations of data to be collected (through surveys and interviews) and then analyzed (with a trend and thematic analysis).

Quantitative Methods

Survey Questionnaire

To begin collecting my data and testing my hypothesis, I conducted survey questionnaires. Survey questionnaires are general, numeric descriptions of a participant’s trends, attitudes, or opinions in relations to a particular topic of interest (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). Participants will mainly be answering a series of closed-ended, rating scale, and Likert scale questions in order to ensure relatively quick and straightforward responses. Survey questionnaires would also enable the surveyor to obtain a larger sample size for his/her surveys and work more efficiently and productively while producing consistent results. A survey questionnaire was selected as a method for collecting data because it allows the surveyor to conduct an expeditious observation of a sample. Therefore, in order to understand the opinions of a representative sample in a brief period of time, a survey questionnaire would be the most optimal and accessible data collection method to be conducted.

Moviegoer Satisfaction Survey Questionnaire (MSSQ)

  •  Did you enjoy the movie you were watching? Y/N
  •  How would you rate the movie you watched? (1-5)
  •  Would you return to this theater in the near future? Y/N
  • Would you recommend this theater for others to attend? Y/N
  • How often do you attend this theater?
  • Rarely, Sometimes, Very Often, Always
  • How would you rate your overall satisfaction with your experience at this theater?

Highly Satisfied, Satisfied, Dissatisfied, Highly Dissatisfied

  •  Do you like anime? Y/N
  •  Do you think featuring more anime films would attract more people to attend this theater? Y/N
  •  Theaters are being replaced by television, video streaming programs, and the Internet.

Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, Strongly Agree

  • Theaters should feature more anime films.

Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, Strongly Agree

About 200-400 moviegoers were randomly selected from four local theaters in Las Vegas, Nevada (Regal Village Square Stadium, Regal Red Rock Stadium, Brenden Palms Casino Theater, and AMC Town Square Theater) to participate in my moviegoer satisfaction survey questionnaire (so about 50-100 people were randomly selected from each theater). The survey was conducted in person with a cluster sampling method in which I randomly select a movie that’s being screened, and I survey every person watching that movie. The goals for conducting my survey were to gauge the public opinion on the perceived current state of theaters and to measure the level of interest and involvement with watching movies, attending theaters to watch movies, and watching anime. These surveys served as a baseline for identifying one’s relationship with the theater industry and the primary method for collecting the data that will be used as a resource for measuring the impact of anime in the theater industry.

Trend Delineation (Trend Analysis)

To analyze my quantitative data, I conducted a trend analysis research. A trend analysis is when forecasts about prevailing tendencies of certain events and behaviors are formulated based on a regression analysis of the data (Creswell & Creswell, 2018). Analyzing trends is useful for projecting future and expected outcomes. It can help researchers understand the relationship between variables through a visual delineation. Most importantly, these trends can be replicated and verified by other research studies. However, it can be difficult to interpret whether a specific event/behavior is a trend or a rare anomaly/outlier. Also, the use of trends for describing long-term consequences can be unreliable if insufficient data is collected.

The quantitative data from my survey and from reliable, published statistical sources was recorded into a trend analysis report (TAR). Then, the data from TAR was depicted as line plots, scatter plots, and monopolistically competitive graphs and interpreted in my findings. The goals for conducting a trend analysis research were to analyze the relationship between the type of movies displayed and the attendance rate of theaters (measured by the number of tickets sold for those movies) and to analyze the relationship between the type of movies displayed andantes theater’s gross box office revenue.

Qualitative Methods

Customer and Business Semi-Structured Interviews

After I collected data with my survey, I conducted customer interviews and business interviews. Customer interviews are interviews conducted for learning about and understanding the experiences of an interviewee’s life in relations to a particular business from a customer’s perspective. The interviewee in a customer interview has to be someone who has experience as a consumer of the goods and services offered by that particular business. Business interviews are interviews conducted for understanding the management of a particular business through a company’s perspective. The interviewee in a business interview has to be an executive member of a business or an employee who represents their respective business. Both interviews are semi-structured interviews, meaning that there exists a fairly loose framework that allows for fluid and efficient communication between both respondents.

In this interview format, there is no limit to the amount of questions asked and responses received; interviewees can be asked a combination of open and closed questions; interviewees can voice their natural train of thought and line of reasoning without numerous barriers/limitations affecting their responses; the interviewer can utilize his/her preparation and resources to elicit professional, straightforward responses to his/her questions and improvise when unexpected circumstances occur (such as an inappropriate intrusion into one’s personal life). Customer and business interviews were selected for the acquisition and analyzation of data to understand the different perspectives that participates in the development of a business. Ultimately, customer and business interviews were implemented to understand the different perspectives and opinions that interviewees possess depending on the role they partake in relations to the business.

My sample for my interviews stemmed from a continuation of the sample involved in my surveys. However, my interview sample was comprised of a representative subset from my original sample. Two local moviegoers, two local theater representative, and one theater critic were randomly selected. A moviegoer who watches movies at Regal Village Square Stadium, a moviegoer who watches movies at Regal Red Rock Stadium , a representative for Brenden Palms Casino Theater, a representative for AMC Town Square, and a theater critic from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society were randomly selected to participate in my interviews. After the selection of my small subset was complete, interviews were categorized into three customer interviews (two local moviegoers and a theater critic) and two business interviews (two local theater representatives). In total, five subjects were interviewed as part of the study.

Each interview was conducted to understand the lived and natural experiences of those involved with the theater industry as either a consumer or a producer, to analyze in-depth about potential issues the participants may perceive with theaters in relations to their content, and to seek insight from the participants on how frequently screening anime content could affect those potential issues. The interviews featured similar guideline questions about the state and well-being of the theater industry and were conducted either electronically (through a phone call or email) or in person. These interviews were only one aspect in analyzing the data I collected from my surveys and for exploring the impact of anime on the development of theaters.

Thematic Analysis

After the interviews were conducted, a qualitative thematic analysis was implemented. Thematic analysis is a method for identifying patterns and themes within qualitative data (Braun and Clarke, 2006). Thematic analysis was used to analyze the experiences each interviewee had with movie theaters. Common themes and similar experiences were identified among the interviewees’ responses and then analyzed to discover the characteristics of movie theaters that the interviewees want theaters to maintain or change and how these characteristics correlate with the potential use of anime as movie content in aiding in the development of local theaters.


For my pilot study, I surveyed 48 moviegoers who watched the movie The Grinch at the movie theater at Downtown Summerlin mall and interviewed a film critic associated with the Las Vegas Film Critic Society through email. My quantitative data will be delineated to help visualize the trends/patterns in the moviegoers’ responses, and the method in which the data is delineated by will depend on the nature/type of the questions. My qualitative data will be transcribed to help me accurately understand common themes/patterns that may emerge from the responses of the film critic.

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How American Theaters Influenced Anime Screenings. (2022, Feb 03). Retrieved from

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