Well, the DECLINE at least…
Back in the Fifties and Sixties, movie-audience demographics were pretty evenly distributed. You had movies for kids, teenagers, grown-ups (as opposed to “adult” films, which most people take to mean PORN) and wrinklies – with the 18-25 group being at the core.
But as the Seventies progressed, this changed – movies got harder-edged and by the turn of the Eighties, you were hard-pressed to find ANY for KIDS.
However, as the Eighties gave way to the Nineties, two things happened: firstly, CG feature cartoons began to find an audience – and secondly, movie-makers began to realise that movies made for grown-ups could earn significantly more if they were tailored towards the PG13 certificate.
Indeed, many movies got trimmed by seconds at release for this reason.
Back in the Sixties and Seventies, the PG13 certificate would have scared off makers of movies for grown-ups, since they would have worried the certificate would put off a mature audience.
In fact, Hammer once famously ADDED a few scenes to one of their horror movies, just to GET an R rating.
But times change and by the Nineties, adults had been conditioned to accept PG13s – in fact, some cinemas in rural America refused to SHOW R movies.
Thus it was that in just ten years, Hollywood effected a complete U-turn and now movies for GROWN-UPS were thin on the ground.
This was exacerbated by the way movies were shown. Up to 1980, if you saw a movie, it would generally be at a cinema – but after this point, they were increasingly shown in multiplexes.
And with these often situated in shopping centres, adults would dump their kids there while they shopped – or spring them money to go there, leaving their parents to do grown-up things in now-empty homes.
They figured their kids would be safe, being in shopping centres – with most of the movies being PG13.
And with this new pattern established, the core audience went down from 18-25 – to 12-18. And half of Hollywood’s money followed them.
Now its premier productions were all big-budget, no-brain, CGI-laden sequels, prequels and remakes of REAL movies – often “spun-off” from video-games, comics – even theme-park rides. In short – Bubble-Gum movies.
But change is once again afoot…
Young people are now increasingly turning to iPads and suchlike for their entertainment – which are interactive.
Whereas BABY-BOOMERS are now RETIRING and looking for something to DO – and they have NO interest in Bubble-Gum movies whatsoever.
They want movies with CONTENT – movies that are ABOUT something.
And a few wise movie-makers are realising that this new market is worth giving serious consideration to. The thing is, Bubble-Gum movies cost a hundred to two hundred million bucks EACH to make – while movies that appeal to Baby Boomers cost maybe just TWENTY million.
The stars the Boomers relate to – Al Pacino, Julia Roberts, etc. – are now CHEAP, having MADE their piles, back in the days when, to “open a picture”, they got twenty million dollars a pop. Thus today, money no longer being an issue, they are prepared to work for a pittance, if the SCRIPT is right.
While Baby-Boomers audiences do not want to WATCH Bubble-Gum movies – Baby-Boomer actors do not want to ACT in them.
Plus, with CGI only needed to move a story along and stunt-work limited to getting up out of a chair quickly, the production costs of Baby-Boomer movies are MINIMAL.
And yes, oldsters get concessions – but so do the younger kids.
Also, retired folks generally like to go to the movies during school-day afternoons – when cinemas are otherwise nearly empty.
So during the last year, Hollywood has begun doing the maths…
Green-light a blockbuster made for kids that will cost you a hundred to two hundred BIG ones – which if it FAILS, will KILL your production company?
Or green-light TEN Baby-Boomer movies which have a growing market and represent a far more conservative investment?
UPDATE! I wrote the above piece just before the 2012 Awards Season began – which is now coming to an end (the Oscars are in two weeks).
And I am vexed to see that many in The Industry are just not GETTING it.
They are talking about the “Grey Pound/Dollar” (fair enough) but citing movies which have followed a trend of starring wrinklies – in wrinkly situations (game oldsters in retirement homes and the like).
No, no, NO! That is NOT what I was talking about AT ALL.
What I was referring to were movies that have SUBSTANCE, STORY, CHARACTERS – as stated above, movies that are ABOUT something.
My generation does NOT want to see movies that remind them they are OLD.
To reiterate: what we want are movies that tell STORIES about things that are INTERESTING – with characters that are REAL. We want to see films featuring actors of ALL generations – young, middle-aged and elderly. Not just a load of old FARTS messing about.
You are missing the POINT, film industry – and unless you get your sh*t together, you will miss a golden opportunity as well…