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Brits watching post-apocalyptic films for ‘comfort’ throughout pandemic

Streaming data from NOW TV reveals Brits are turning to apocalyptic and dystopian movies for comfort in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, with the likes of After EarthMinority Report and The World’s End seeing a significant surge in viewing during lockdown.

Viewing data analysed over the lockdown period showed streams of post-apocalyptic action film After Earth soared by 452%, with Minority Report up 159% and The World’s End up 85.5%*.

Looking at the psychology behind this trend, a NOW TV survey of 2,000 people found that a quarter of Brits (24%) watching films that depict the end of the world, major disasters, and/or apocalypses felt better about the current COVID situation. Of those that enjoy films of this nature, three quarters (72%) found lockdown ‘easy’ to cope with  and these fans say they think they will feel more mentally and emotionally resilient in the case of a second wave (57% vs 42%).

Jo Hemmings, BPS Behavioural, Media and Celebrity Psychologist said: “By watching apocalyptic movies and TV shows viewers are able to anticipate the worst-case scenarios in their heads, a coping mechanism which helps them deal with the fear factor relating to COVID-19. Escapism, empathy and resonance allow people to diminish some of the negative emotions created by the pandemic, and instead focus on the experiences of characters facing the impact of world changing disasters, while also taking reassurance that it usually pans out well in the end.”

Amidst further local lockdowns in Bolton, Manchester, West Yorkshire and Leicester, research also found that the escapism of films of all genres offered half of Brits (50%) a sense of comfort during the unknowns of lockdown.

When asked what fictional companion Brits would want at their side in a real-life end of the world crisis, Terminator (13%), Sarah Connor (13%) from Terminator and Captain America from Avengers Endgame (12%) topped the list.

Commenting on the news Marina Storti, MD of streaming service NOW TV said: “Our TV habits are often influenced by what’s going on in the world around us and our mood at that moment. During the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge surge in our viewing numbers with customers tuning into post-apocalyptic movies like After Earth and Minority Report to find comfort in these fictional worlds.”

The research also showed that Londoners are the most likely to admit that at some point during this pandemic they’ve felt as though they are living in a post-apocalyptic film (64% versus a national average of 43%), with almost a third (29%) of Londoners saying they currently feel this way.

Now TV’s Most Streamed Post-Apocalyptic Dramas

Based on month on month viewing data, the below titles saw the largest % increase on NOW TV’s Sky Cinema Pass:

  1. After Earth (451.5%)
  2. Minority Report (159.2%)
  3. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (138.3%)
  4. Armageddon (116.8%)
  5. The World’s End (85.5%)

The public also voted on the best films to help prepare for a global disaster and the below titles came out top:

  1. Independence Day
  2. Contagion
  3. The Day After Tomorrow
  4. Pandemic
  5. Outbreak
  6. I Am Legend
  7. Terminator Series
  8. 28 Days Later
  9. Armageddon
  10. Shaun of the Dead

For those that find themselves turning to apocalyptic films during a crisis, there is a wide selection of content currently available or coming soon to choose from on NOW TV, such as Zombieland: Double Tap, Shaun of The Dead, The Walking Dead, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and I Am Legend.