What’s easier to ask of audiences?
To spend $12 dollars or to spend 2 hours captive without access to your phone.
Paying for entertainment is not the problem. The issue is partly getting audiences to pay attention (The average attention span is now less than a goldfish.) More importantly, asking audiences to block off 2+ hours with strangers and no use of their phones — good luck with that.
More than a theory, this is why more and more are viewing at home. And why more and more films and television will be, what we term, “screen-forward” entertainment. There is something else happening before, around, in, and after you view. The film or show is one part of a larger audience experience, even expectation. The programming causes the audience to lean forward in anticipation of what can be done next. You feel compelled long after the credits roll. It makes sense. Escapism can be achieved a thousand different ways. Entering (entertainment) into something to feel again, to believe, to move — that is an increasing factor in audience behavior.
Some films cause you to lean back. Others to the side. More and more will ask audiences to lean forward.