In my last blog, we learned that the answer to the question as to whether 3D can save the American Movie Box Office is Probably Not. The adult consumers we surveyed do not view 3D as important to them in selecting a movie to see.

But what is important?

We polled 829 US consumers age 18+ who are part of TRC's online panel. They were part of a broader test in which we experimented with various methods to determine the best way to differentiate importance factors in the decision-making process. We chose movie decision-making as our topic, and participants evaluated 18 factors in their decision which movie to see and where to see it.

Regardless of which method the participants used to evaluate the decision process, the most important decision factor was always the same:

I like the plot or story

That's right, it boils down to good old-fashioned story telling.  If the plotline has appeal, the audience is interested.

It's not news that a focus on special effects and wowing audiences with intense visual and auditory experiences can overwhelm movie productions to the point that telling the story becomes secondary. Here, our small group of consumers is reminding movie producers: tell me a good story.

The second and third most important factors were the same across all our methods tested:

It is in my favorite movie genre

It has my favorite stars

In some cases certainly the genre and the plot are interlinked. Framing the story properly within a genre helps potential audiences make a high-level decision about whether that plot will interest them. And as we've seen time and time again, stars alone may not be sufficient to drive attendance, but they are important.

So does an appealing genre with A-list stars and an interesting story guarantee top box office?  We're not so naive to believe that's always true. But in an age where "It's in 3D!" is a prominent part of movie promotion, perhaps we should step back and consider some alternatives.