Friday, August 3, 2012

Who should Hollywood be making movies for?

I just read an interview with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman. They both have small roles in the new Batman movie and are 79 and 75 respectively. Their age was a partial subject of the interview during which they 'pitched' the idea of them doing a 'buddy' movie together about a couple of retired police detectives coming out of retirement to solve a crime.

Would that movie get made? Could that movie get made? If it did I would certainly go see it.

In the past Hollywood has always bet almost exclusively on films aimed at a very young demographic. In fact they have bet on an even narrower slice of that demographic: young males.

Today, that is a mistake. That is not to say that demographic is not important, it is to say that there is a wider and growing audience out there that is ignored at the industry's financial peril.

Frequent moviegoers drive the industry. Frequent moviegoers are those that go to a movie at least once a month. This group makes up only 10% of the population but buy half of all movie tickets sold. This is a key group for the industry.

In 2011 for the U.S./Canadian market 18-24 year olds made up 19% of frequent moviegoers that was down from 2010 when they made up 21% of frequent moviegoers. But the 25-39 demographic went from 22% in 2010 to 28% in 2011.

More importantly to this discussion is the fact that in 2011 the 60+ demographic makes up 12% of the frequent moviegoer population and the 50-59 demographic makes up 9%. That is a combined 21% of frequent moviegoers.

Something else to remember. This older demographic is part of the Baby Boom generation.

When the recording industry in the 1960s and 70s was focusing a young demographic, it was the Baby Boom generation. When the motion picture industry in the 1960s and 70s was focusing on a young demographic, it was the Baby Boom generation.

As that generation moved through older demographics, the industries didn't follow. The industries continued, for instance to focus on 18-24 but over time, that large body of the population (78 Million) was no longer 18-24. Because of the size of the generation it took a while for the generation to no longer be represented in that younger demographic and so the industries could continue, with some success to target the demographic. That is now changing, in fact has changed.

Boomers were raised on movies. It is in our DNA. We will still go to movies and go frequently if there is something we want to see in a theatre in which we are comfortable.

The last couple of years is proving that out. Films like the King's Speech and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are drawing older audiences in good numbers. And while the 21% of frequent moviegoers in 2011 that this older demographic represents, their sheer numbers is even more important. If the primary audience of a film is a 50+ audience, that population is huge compared to the past.

So, Hollywood, give us, in this older demographic, a clean and comfortable theatre, with nice amenities (having the opportunity to have a glass of wine) and a feature film that is well written, well-acted, witty or serious or both, and is reliant more on story and character than pyrotechnics and we will come.

Oh, and if it is a buddy movie about a couple of retired detectives starring Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, that will be even better.

P.S. In reflecting on my blog post yesterday about the Sight and Sound list of top 10 films, it is interesting to note that none of the films on the list was made after 1963.

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