For years, I’ve been beating the same drum over and over: Studios should be making movies that target Baby Boomers and Seniors. You can go here and here to see just a couple of posts I’ve done on this very subject with this summation:
I’ve been saying precisely this for years: Someone should make movies for the Baby Boomer and up crowd precisely because of the reasons listed in this article — largest demo group, most discretionary time, most discretionary income. And oh yeah, unlike some age groups, we don’t know the first thing about pirating movies online and actually prefer to see movies in a movie theater.
Fortunately Hollywood has changed its tune and is now consciously targeting Old Farts. Witness the most recent example, the movie Last Vegas which opened last weekend. Here is the trailer:
IMDB Plot summary: Three sixty-something friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal.
High concept. Four big movie stars. Per Rotten Tomatoes, critics didn’t like it (44%), audiences basically did (73%). Similarly with Metacritic: Critics (48), User Score (6.7).
Doesn’t matter. Movie opened with a nifty $16.3M. With a production budget of a reported $28M, there’s a good chance the movie will prove profitable from its domestic theatrical run alone. Which echoes the point of a recent Studio System News article: ‘Last Vegas’ & the Hidden Capital of Baby Boomers at the Box Office.
CBS Films’ Last Vegas opens domestically today, November 1, and stars Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline. The film, essentially The Hangover for grown-ups, is about four lifelong friends who opt to stop acting their age and relive their glory days when the pack’s sworn bachelor decides to get married. This is not the first time a studio has tapped older, well-known stars to headline a film; Sylvester Stallone ignited the box office by gathering a super team of ‘80s action stars for The Expendables franchise, whose two films together have raked in $574 million worldwide. Eighteen-to-24 year old boys may rule the roost when it comes to summer blockbuster spectaculars, but hidden among the releases throughout the year are smaller films starring older casts that steadily rake in the dough.
“Our demo has more time, more disposable income, and when they like a movie, they reward it very well,” says Bill Newcott, entertainment editor at AARP’s The Magazine. “They give a movie legs, and that’s the real value of our audience.” That is certainly true, as recent films with senior ensemble casts have averaged an opening haul of $14 million—a tepid first-week figure, sure—but play the long game and the numbers pan out in the positive. During a 16-week theatrical run, these films averaged $63 million domestically and $73 million internationally, on budgets of approximately $40 million. That’s a 251 percent theatrical gross return on investment (ROI). Even when accounting for the distributor’s share, the ROI is still a positive 75 percent, and that’s not including ancillary revenue.
In terms of genre, comedies and dramas make up the majority of films starring older leads, but romantic comedies fare best. The four rom-coms (Hope Springs, Mamma Mia!, Something’s Gotta Give, and It’s Complicated) released in the last ten years had a 401 percent ROI, with average budgets of $62 million and worldwide box office grosses of $274 million. Dependably successful comedies earned a 305 percent ROI, followed by dramas at 236 percent ROI, with action flicks bringing up the rear with 116 percent ROI. Even taking into to account the distributor’s share, the average ROI for each genre came out on top (eight to 151 percent). If you take it a step further and add in estimated marketing costs, the films still averaged a 25 percent ROI just from the a theatrical run. That’s astounding in a time when many movies are often in the red until money from ancillary markets stream in.
This is all music to my ears for several reasons. First, I am a member of the Baby Boomer generation and so when Hollywood deigns to make more than a handful of movies with me in mind, it makes me a happy camper. It’s as if the suits suddenly remembered not everyone enjoys going to theaters to mainline CGI superheroes saving the world – again! – that there is a lost generation wandering shopping malls desperate to see anything that has a beating heart, multidimensional characters and something known as a real goddammed story. Could it be that Hollywood wants to be our pal again?
And while Last Vegas is not at the top of my To See list, more compelling titles are in the pipeline such as Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, Her, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Wolf of Wall Street, August: Osage County, and Black Nativity.
The other reason this excites me is the current script I’m working on targets Boomers and Seniors. Even though it’s a little indie drama, I’m banking that this new song Hollywood is singing will make it easier to secure funding.
Really, these type of business decisions should be a no-brainer. If you keep the budgets down, work with a solid script in a mainstream genre like drama or comedy, and create roles which can be filled by name actors, the simple fact is Baby Boomers and Seniors are likely to show up. Again from the article:
There’s been a steady rise in the number of films that feature older actors thanks in part to an older demographic who want to see brand-named stars they trust headlining films. Screenwriter Nicholas Kazan said it best, “Our generation really had a love affair with the movies in a profound way, it was not a fling, not a casual relationship, but a real love affair.” Studios should continue to branch out and make films like Last Vegas if for no other reason than it’s a solid investment with a dependable profit, which studios could use more of on their slates.
Indeed, if Hollywood makes films that get Old Farts back into the habit of going out to the theater, we will support other films that don’t specifically target us, like Gravity which has achieved its success largely on the back of the 35+ and older crowd.
Yes, we love movies. They represent a refrain we will never grow tired of experiencing.
For more of the article, go here.