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What makes a great 'quarantine film'? Analysing film search trends after COVID-19


With everyone now spending so much of their time inside, we’ve been watching movies much more as a society. We have always sought certain genres for a cheap thrill or a belly laugh, but now it seems we’re turning to Netflix and Amazon Prime in much higher numbers for something more substantial - sanity. The numbers show it, too. 


On April 21st, Netflix reported an increase of 15.8 million subscribers over a recent period, far ahead of the 7.6 million Wall Street predicted (Source: LA Times).

Compared to the same period last year, this has seen both their net income ($709 million) and their earnings per share ($1.57) more than double.

In comparing year-on-year data, we can accurately gauge the impact COVID-19 has had. With that in mind, we investigated the very movies, celebrities and genres we’ve been seeking refuge in to see how their public interest levels have changed. To do this, we compared the search volume data for the month wide-scale quarantine began, to the same period a year prior. You’ll find that across the board, searches are on the rise because people are watching more films than ever - this is why we’ll find the most interesting data when comparing searches. 

This data allows us to see what we as a society are looking for in the oft-mentioned ‘quarantine movie’. Are we turning to comedies for solace or disaster movies to almost help us come to terms with the world around us? Will we see a rise in films like 28 Days Later, which portray large metropolitan areas empty of people, out of a grimly ironic search for relatability? Maybe everyone still just wants to watch The Lion King. 

The most interesting takeaways:

- Searches for “best disaster movies” have increased by 190%, while searches for “best comedy movies” searches have only increased by 23%Are people maybe too worried at the moment to enjoy a few laughs?

- Searches for “best fantasy movies” have increased by 50%, while “best horror movies” searches have only increased by 23%Are people seeking solace in the rolling hills and stunning landscapes of films like Lord of the Rings over the bloody dungeons of horror movies like Hostel?

- Searches for “sad movies” have increased by 83%, while searches for “happy movies” have increased by 33%Does this show that people want to wallow in anxiety instead of trying to find ways to combat it?

- Searches for the actor “Tom Hanks movies” have surged by 173%Did people fear losing Tom Hanks after his brush with COVID-19 and search to find his best movies to watch and remind themselves of how talented he is?

- Searches for the film “Groundhog Day” have shot up by 173%Are people relating to a film where every day looks exactly the same; a sentiment that is common amongst people at the moment?

- Searches for “Call Me By Your Name” have increased by 123%Do people want to watch films filmed in beautiful cases, like Northern Italy in this case, to help them deal with being stuck in their houses all day?

 

Below, you can find the data we've collected, along with the methodology and further notes at the bottom.



Which movie genres are getting searched for more?

Search Term Searches in March ‘19 Searches in
March ‘20
Percentile Change
“Best disaster movies” 1,000 2,900 190
“Best fantasy movies” 1,600 2,400 50
“Best action movies” 8,100 12,100 49
“Best animated movies” 8,100 12,100 49
“Best comedy movies” 18,100 22,200 23
“Best western movies” 1,300 1,600 23
“Best horror movies” 18,100 22,200 23
“Best romantic movies” 8,100 9,900 22

What emotions are we looking for from our movies?

Search Term

Searches in March ‘19 Searches in
March ‘20
Percentile Change
“Uplifting movies” 320 1,000 213
“Sad movies” 5,400 9,400 83
“Happy movies” 720 1,000 33

Which directors are we seeking out more?

Search Term

Searches in March ‘19 Searches in March ‘20 Percentile Change
“Martin Scorcese movies” 1,900 3,600 89
“Quentin Tarantino movies” 12,100 18,100 50
“Steven Speilberg movies” 3,600 5,400 50
“Christopher Nolan movies” 2,900 3,600 24
“David Fincher movies” 2,900 1,600 -45

Which actors do we want to watch more?


Search Term

Searches in March ‘19 Searches in March ‘20 Percentile Change
“Tom Hanks movies” 22,200 60,500 173
“Brad Pitt movies” 12,100 27,100 124
“Will Smith movies” 18,100 40,500 124
“Leonardo DiCaprio movies” 18,100 27,100 50
“Morgan Freeman movies” 4,400 5,400 23
“Samuel L Jackson movies” 8,100 6,600 -19

Which actresses do we want to watch more?

Search Term

Searches in March ‘19 Searches in March ‘20 Percentile Change

“Margot Robbie movies” 2,900 5,400 86
“Angelina Jolie movies” 4,400 6,600 50
“Scarlett Johansson movies” 8,100 12.100 49
“Jennifer Lawrence movies” 6,000 8,100 23
“Emma Stone movies” 3,600 2,900 19
“Brie Larson movies” 12,100 1,600 -87

Which classics are we returning to?

- IMDb Top 5 Movies

Search Term

Searches in March ‘19 Searches in March ‘20 Percentile Change
“The Godfather Part 2” 4,400 12,100 175
“The Shawshank Redemption” 49,500 90,500 83
“Pulp Fiction” 74,000 90,500 22
“The Godfather” 40,500 49,500 22
“The Dark Knight” 49,500 49,500 0

- Disney movies


Search Term

Searches in March ‘19 Searches in March ‘20 Percentile Change

“The Emperor's New Groove” 5,400 14,800 174
“The Jungle Book” 27,100 74,000 173
“The Lion King” 123,000 368,000 173
“Cinderella” 60,500 135,000 123
“The Little Mermaid” 49,500 90,500 83

- Horror movies


Search Term

Searches in March ‘19 Searches in March ‘20 Percentile Change

“28 Days Later” 27,100 201,000 642
“Friday the 13th” 14,800 75,000 400
“Silence of the Lambs” 49,500 74,000 49
“A Nightmare on Elm Street” 8,100 5,400 -33
“Get Out” 301,000 60,500 -80

- Comedy movies


Search Term

Searches in March ‘19 Searches in March ‘20 Percentile Change

“Groundhog Day” 22,200 60,500 173
“Dumb and Dumber” 40,500 90,500 123
“The Naked Gun” 1,000 1,900 90
“Step Brothers” 22,200 40,500 82
“Planes, Trains and Automobiles” 8,100 12,100 49

- Romantic movies


Search Term

Searches in March ‘19 Searches in March ‘20 Percentile Change

“Bridget Jones Diary” 8,100 22,200 174
“Sleepless in Seattle” 8,100 18,100 123
“Call Me By Your Name” 40,500 90,500 123
“Clueless” 49,500 110,000 122





Methodology and further notes:

We used the SEO Monitor ‘Search Trends after COVID-19’ tool to collect all of the data above, with the United Kingdom region selected. Their search volumes are taken from Google Ads’ Keyword Planner, using their own variations of the aggregation system.

Topics were picked based on our own personal knowledge of the industry, what people would be interested in and search strings on Google. For example, when deciding which actors we would cover, we searched  “most popular actors” so we could source the data that people would be most interested in. By this, we mean that the public is going to be considerably more interested in the data surrounding an actor like Tom Hanks, than a lesser-known actor like Iko Uwais. 

All data and information are accurate as of May 2020.