Gen Zers Love Horror Almost as Much as They Love Comedy

Young demographic likes comedy content about the same amount as the general population does but enjoys the horror genre significantly more, per new Morning Consult data
December 12, 2022 at 5:00 am UTC

Gen Zers are no longer a mere fascination: They now wield serious purchasing power and cultural capital as they put their imprints on the global economy. Morning Consult surveyed Americans between the ages of 13 and 25 about their media tastes and habits, relationships with brands and interest in sports in order to better understand where, exactly, the youngest adult generation is now taking us.

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Gen Z is a complex group, but they’re very clear about one thing: They like to be scared.

In a recent survey of Americans between the ages of 13 and 25, Gen Zers said horror ranks as their second favorite genre of entertainment, narrowly behind only comedy. That affinity was on full display this fall when 1 in 3 Gen Z adults reported having seen a horror movie in a theater, at a time when Hollywood studios and the theatrical industry have found it difficult to get consumers back to theaters. But Gen Z is becoming a more reliable audience — particularly for scary stuff.

Gen Z Differs From General Population on Horror, Drama and Animation

The shares of respondents who selected each TV/movie genre as one of their three favorites:
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Survey conducted Nov. 2-8, 2022, among a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 25, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-3 percentage points. A separate survey was conducted Nov. 2-4, 2022, among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.
  • Comedy is Gen Zers’ favorite genre, with 38% selecting it as one of their three favorites. TV shows like “The Office” continue to dominate the streaming charts even years after first airing.
  • Horror followed close behind, with 32% of Gen Zers selecting it among their favorite genres — 10 percentage points higher than the general population did. Gen Zers were also 3 points more likely than all U.S. adults to have heard of Blumhouse Productions, the production company known for popular horror franchises like “Paranormal Activity,” “Insidious” and the “Halloween” sequel trilogy. Recent original horror movies like Sony Pictures’ “Barbarbian” and Paramount Pictures’ “Smile” have surpassed expectations at the domestic box office this year, in no small part thanks to Gen Z audiences.
  • About 3 in 10 (29%) Gen Zers said action is one of their favorite genres, followed by animation (20%), mystery/thriller (17%) and romance (17%).
  • The general population enjoys drama (26%) significantly more than Gen Zers do (15%), while Gen Zers enjoy animation (20%) much more than all adults (7%).
  • More Gen Zers selected foreign language as one of their favorite genres (3%) than did the general population (1%), though that falls within the survey’s margin of error.

Message to studios: more horror, comedy and horror-comedy 

Gen Zers’ taste in genres is versatile. They want films and TV shows to scare them almost as much as they want them to make them laugh, while the general population is more partial to the latter experience. 

As part of an effort to reach younger audiences, studios and filmmakers are increasingly experimenting with blending the two experiences to give those viewers the best of both worlds, and perhaps draw them away from their phones and into a movie theater. In the last year alone, films like “Barbarian,” “Fresh” and “Bodies Bodies Bodies” have unleashed scares alongside a comedy bent.

The Nov. 2-8, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,000 U.S. Gen Zers between the ages of 13 and 25, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. A separate Nov. 2-4, 2022, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,210 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

A headshot photograph of Saleah Blancaflor
Saleah Blancaflor
Data Reporter

Saleah Blancaflor previously worked at Morning Consult as a data reporter covering the business of entertainment.

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