Expert says change has come as more content providers enter the NZ market.

More Kiwis are watching movies online than ever before but video piracy is on the decline, according to a new report by Flicks.co.nz.

The local movie website surveyed 1650 Kiwis for its latest cinema census, revealing new insights into our movie-going habits.

The survey found 51 per cent of Kiwis regularly watch movies online, up from 41 per cent in 2011. Of those, 43 per cent admitted to usually watching movies from an illegal source, which was down from 2011 when 87 per cent said they regularly pirated films.

Flicks editor Steve Newall said the change came as more content providers entered the New Zealand market.

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"The availability of legal streaming and download services has made an impact - seen in both the decline of physical media and a massive downturn in those who usually watch pirated content.

"However, attitudes to piracy have softened, and a majority of those watching movies online still pirate some content, suggesting it's an accepted method of viewing alongside legal options."

Those who do pirate films say their main motivation is the availability of content, with 46 per cent saying that was what drove their behaviour. Only 13 per cent said it was to save money.

But while online viewing is increasing, cinema attendance has remained relatively steady, with 60 per cent of respondents saying they regularly go to the movies, compared with 62 per cent in 2011. That could change, however, if prices continue to increase, with four out of five Kiwis saying movie ticket prices are too expensive. The average movie ticket now costs $18.50, with extra fees charged for 3D and Imax movies.

Two in three respondents said they would double their cinema-going if tickets were $3-$5 cheaper.

Newall said exhibitors could actually increase their returns by discounting tickets.

"If a $3 discount doubled movie-going for the indicated group, it could mean an extra $25 million in annual box office returns," he said.

Topping the New Zealand box office at present, according to Flicks, is Mad Max: Fury Road, which has made more than $2.3 million.

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Last year, New Zealand bucked international trends by increasing its annual gross and breaking its previous yearly record. Kiwis spent $183.1 million on movie tickets in 2014 compared with the previous high of $176.5 million set in 2010, according to the Motion Picture Distribution Association of New Zealand.

Mad Max: Fury Road is top of the New Zealand box office with $2.3million in takings.
Mad Max: Fury Road is top of the New Zealand box office with $2.3million in takings.