Ageing audiences and actors fuelling the movie business

Hollywood is embracing the boomer, who is turning out to be the most avid moviegoer of all as teenagers and young adults disappear behind video game consoles, computers and iPhones.

According to this article, a quiet revolution within the studio system began in 2009 with the success of Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Instead of releasing the film in fall or winter — primetime for adult fare — Sony went against conventional wisdom and opened the movie in August. Julie & Julia went on to become one of the most profitable films of that summer, grossing $94.1 million in North America. More than 55 percent of the film’s opening-weekend audience was over age 50.

More recently, the top-grossing theater in the U.S. for The Expendables 2 — a who’s who of 1980s action stars now in their 60s, led by 66-year-old Sylvester Stallone — was the Cinemark Palace 20 in Boca Raton, Fla., densely populated by affluent retirees. About 245 miles away, Hope Springs, starring Meryl Streep, 63, and Tommy Lee Jones, 65, was the No. 1 film at the Rialto 8 in The Villages, a sprawling retirement community northwest of Orlando.

Some other recent successes attributed to older audiences:

  • The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson, 75, and Morgan Freeman, 75, (2007)
  • Gran Torino, directed by and starring the 82-year-old Clint Eastwood. (2008)
  • Mamma Mia!, starring Meryl Streep, 63
  • Taken, starring Liam Neeson, 60
  • True Grit, starring Jeff Bridges, 62
  • Safe House, starring 57-year-old Denzel Washington
  • The Bourne Legacy is being fuelled by the over-50 set, which made up 33 percent of the film’s opening-weekend audience in early August.
  • The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring Judi Dench, 77; Tom Wilkinson, 64; Bill Nighy, 62; and Maggie Smith, 77 — was made for a modest $10 million but has grossed north of $46 million domestically and $131 million worldwide.
  • Moonrise KingdomWes Anderson’s quirky coming-of-age story that features Bill Murray, 61, and Bruce Willis, 57 — also overperformed throughout the summer, grossing $42 million to date.