Movie News & Reviews

AARP explores impact of older moviegoers

A new AARP study shows that moviegoers age 50 and older have a larger impact on the success of a film than previously realized, even on films aimed at younger audiences.

According to the study, more than 30 percent of all cinema visits were made by adults age 50 and older. The study, conducted by Movio, a marketing data analytics firm, was released in March during CinemaCon, the National Association of Theatre Owners’ annual conference in Las Vegas.

The study, which looked at 266 films and nearly a million box office records, found that people 50 and older are “a powerful force at the box office.” The 50-plus consumer bolsters blockbusters and drama film revenue and creates “lucrative new niches that don’t rely on mega budgets and foreign exhibition success to be profitable.”

The AARP study showed that the 50-plus moviegoer has helped establish an emerging subgenre referred to as “mature thrillers.” This new category includes action-driven films starring veteran male actors.

The study found that:

▪ 51 percent of the moviegoers who saw “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back,” “Taken 3,” “A Walk Among the Tombstones” and “The November Man” were older than 50, likely because fans are aging alongside such action stars as Tom Cruise, 55; Liam Neeson, 65; Pierce Brosnan, 64; Keanu Reeves, 52; and Kevin Costner, 62.

▪ The 50-plus demographic is a significant contributor to the success of blockbuster movies such as “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” (The 50-plus viewers made up 27 percent of the audience.)

According to the study, this audience also is responsible for the success of other genres, accounting for:

▪ 75 percent of all visits to art house movies

▪ 56 percent of Christian film attendance

▪ 54 percent of independent film box office revenues

Advertising seems to work. The 50-plus crowd “attends movies marketed specifically to them at a rate that is significantly greater than that of the average moviegoer,” according to the study. Senior audiences who watched “Woman in Gold” (2015), for example, went to the movies 14.5 times over the past year, compared with 6.7 times for the average moviegoer.

“Older audiences can create genuine blockbusters too,” the study reported. This happened in 2016 when Clint Eastwood, now 87, teamed up with Tom Hanks, now 61, for “Sully,” the movie about a 58-year-old pilot who safely landed a plane on New York’s Hudson River. Driven by an audience that was 57 percent age 50-plus, “Sully” generated more than $120 million at the domestic box office.

Seniors aren’t in a hurry to see a film, however. Movio found that 60 percent of their box office visits come 15.2 days after a film’s opening.