Half of Canadians have seen a domestic film in the past year

A new Telefilm study found love of local cinema is trending upwards, but domestic film festivals are struggling for consumer awareness.
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Overall audience engagement with Canadian film increased year-over-year, according to a new report from Telefilm, but market awareness of domestic film festivals is limited among audiences.

The 2017 Canadian Audience Report, conducted by Nielsen and financed by Telefilm in partnership with the CMF, indicated that 65% of Canadians are interested in domestic movies, up from 61% last year, and that 78% of local audiences feel that Telefilm serves an important role, up from 74% a year ago. In addition, 25% of respondents said they actively seek out new homegrown films.

There were also increases in the awareness of local films, with 53% of respondents saying they had seen a domestic film in the past 12 months (compared to 48% last year), and 54% are able to name a Canadian movie, up from 50%. The report said this increase might be attributable to sequels that have been released within the past 12 months, including Bon Cop Bad Cop 2 and Goon 2, both of which received heavy marketing pushes. When asked about the domestic film they watched most recently, 11% of respondents said Bon Cop Bad Cop 2, while 3% said Votez Bougon and 2% said MaudieGoon or Mommy.

And while the report indicated a rising recognition of homegrown film, domestic film festivals still have a limited awareness among audiences. In total, 65% of respondents said they were “familiar” or “somewhat familiar” with the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), while the next best-known festival was Vancouver International Film Festival (29%), followed by Hot Docs (22%), TIFF Kids (23%) and Calgary International Film Festival (19%). But despite the awareness of at least one local festival, the report said 78% of Canadians do not follow or attend any film fests.

Outside of festivals, more than half of respondents have gone to the cinema over the past 12 months. For animated content, 54% said they had been to a traditional cinema, while 28% had also watched something at a 3D theatre. For live-action films, 50% said they had seen something within the past year, while 23% said they had also watched something on 3D screen.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Netflix was the most-used online platform for viewing film content. For live-action movies, 61% said they used Netflix, versus 19% for YouTube and 4% for Facebook. For animated movies, 62% preferred Netflix, with 23% using YouTube and 5% using Facebook. On the TV front, the SVOD had a smaller advantage, with 53% viewing on the U.S.-based streamer, versus 20% on YouTube and 6% on Facebook. In docs, 52% said they watched on the platform, while 35% watched on YouTube and 8% on Facebook.

The report also indicated an increased desire for on-screen diversity (in both Canadian and international content), with 49% of respondents agreeing there should be more diversity in film, up from 42% last year. On the TV front, 50% agreed there should be more diversity (this question was not posed in last year’s study). Audiences are also looking for more women-positive films, with 35% agreeing there needs to be more of this type of content, increasing from 32% last year. As well, 27% of respondents said the LGBTQ community need more content and visibility in film, compared with 23% last year.

When considering the importance of promoting Cancon, 80% said it was either somewhat important or very important to promote domestic film, while 78% said the same for local-made TV.

The report also followed on last year’s study, where it said Canadians most receptive to domestic content belong to two audience segments: “Curious” and “Belonging.” Curious” movie watchers are the most likely to proactively search for Canadian films and are typically about 44 years old. This audience segment grew to 29%, from 27%, according to the report. “Belonging” film watchers view films to broaden their horizons and see movies as an opportunity for growth and learning. This audience segment increased slightly to 25%, from 24% the previous year.

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