Movies

Over 50s a surprising driver of box office success

Surprising findings in first-of-its-kind survey of movie audiences

Thriller or drama, horror or romance, gritty social reality or sci-fi fantasy, a huge priority for the suits in Hollywood studios has always been chasing the lucrative millennial dollar.

But a first-of-its-kind study released recently has given the lie to the assumption that while younger audiences flock to theatres, their parents and grandparents are sipping cocoa in front of Dynasty re-runs.

More than 30 per cent of cinema visits are made by moviegoers aged 50 or above, according to the research released during last month's annual CinemaCon convention for theatre operators in Las Vegas.

The survey, carried out by data analytics firm Movio on behalf of lobby group the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), offers a detailed look at the 50-plus moviegoer, highlighting trends in their viewing.

Ms Heather Nawrocki, AARP's director for "movies for grown-ups", told AFP the study demonstrates that the 50-plus demographic was showing it could "significantly contribute to the success of movies at the domestic box office".

She said: "The 50-plus audience segment has disposable income, more leisure time and high loyalty to specific actors, making this segment extremely valuable."

Half a million US moviegoers who had seen at least one film in the 12 months from August 2015 were surveyed.

The study shows that 50-plus moviegoers have even established an emerging genre - so-called "mature thrillers" featuring veteran male actors.

More than half of audiences who saw Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Taken 3, The November Man and A Walk Among The Tombstones were over 50.

The research suggests this phenomenon is because fans are ageing alongside their favourite action stars such as Liam Neeson, Kevin Costner and Tom Cruise, according to AARP.

But the 50-plus demographic is also a significant contributor to the success of blockbusters such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with 50-plus viewers making up 27 per cent of the total audience.

Older audiences can also turn movies that might otherwise struggle into huge hits.

WOWED AUDIENCES

"A better understanding of 50-plus moviegoers can influence the entire movie value chain."Mr Matthew Liebmann

Sully (2016), directed by 86-year-old Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks, 60, wowed audiences with its account of then-58-year-old airplane pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's "Miracle on the Hudson" emergency landing.

Made for just US$60 million (S$84 million) , it generated US$124 million at the US box office alone - attracting audiences that were 57 per cent 50-plus.

"A better understanding of 50-plus moviegoers can influence the entire movie value chain, from production decisions to where and when to exhibit a movie and the most effective communication strategy to motivate their cinema-going behaviour," said Mr Matthew Liebmann, senior vice-president of Movio.

"The ultimate opportunity is to drive incremental revenue for film-makers and exhibitors while also enhancing the satisfaction of this vital segment." - AFP

movieSenior CitizenCINEMAS