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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Are movies about to become even more youth-oriented?

The grownup movies are not doing well at the box office at the moment. Duplicity, State of Play, The Soloist: none have caught fire with audiences. A recent article in The Hollywood Reporter worries:

Pricey, star-driven thrillers and dramas will struggle for profitability as the recession intensifies a trend toward youth-dominated openings.

That’s the consensus after the weekend’s soft opening for Universal’s Russell Crowe starrer, the latest in a series of misfires by adult-oriented releases. Investigative-journo thriller “State of Play” rung up just $14.1 million over its first frame, meaning the Americanized adaptation of a British miniseries must overperform dramatically overseas for the $60 million production to break even.

The pic’s travails reflect this rude awakening in Hollywood: Older demos may be resisting the recent enthusiasm for moviegoing. Certainly it’s been months since anything has caught fire at the arthouses.

Is anyone who wants to see more than horror or action at the multiplex doomed? Are movies about to become even more youth-oriented?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)



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  • RyanH

    As long as Hollywood continues to court the opening weekend numbers more and more, yes the pressure will be to push toward younger audiences. Opening weekends reflect the people who can’t wait a single day to see the newest, shiniest thing. By and large, that does not describe mature (age wise or otherwise) people.

  • bitchen frizzy

    As I’ve said often, the youth and children’s audience is still underserved, which is why parents and children flock to any crap that targets young audiences, since there’s so little to choose from.

    I don’t look forward to it, but sooner or later business sense will prevail and Hollywood will shift more emphasis to young audiences.

  • Jim Mann

    But there is another reason that the big budget films do well. Many of us have limited time to go to the theater, and see many more movies on DVD. One factor in going to the movies for me is thus whether seeing the film on the really big screen vs. on TV make a big difference. It will make a huge difference, I’m sure, for such films as Star Trek and Wolverine, and thus I’ll be off to the theater to see them. For smaller films, the difference won’t be as pronounced. I still might go to see the smaller films in the theater if I have time, but if not, I’ll see them on DVD.

    Jim

  • hdj

    Nah I don’t Believe this one bit, I feel movies come out in seasons and right now its a major time for Kids movies. When Fall swings around horror will pick up again. Action and Horror movies need to smarten up thats all, stop staring Action movies with professional wresters and retiring some horror series with never ending sequels. In the long run I’d say children are taking over the big screen, constant pixar and disney movies every month wouldn’t be to my liking, not event the slightest. I wouldn’t event want to go to the theaters anymore, the floors would covered in damn skittles

  • Paul

    I’m not entirely sure this would be a bad thing. A lot of my favorite newer movies I would describe as teen or kid movies that have jokes for the grown ups too. That would include the movies based upon comic books and the cartoon movies like “The Incredibles.” Very few movies for grown ups need to be movies: they could just as easily be stage plays or books. They are often based upon books. Having written that, I would actually describe the new Batman movies as adult movies with action for the teens.

    Let me preempt an objection here: I do not think movies for teens or kids means “dumb.” Teens and kids have as wide a range of intelligence as adults. One goes to Iron Man and all he sees is the violence, another sees a similiar, if a little neutered, message as from Lords of War. I think the divide between smart and dumb people is far wider than that beween those of different age groups.

    My favorite movies in general have a lot of humor, and unfortunately books take themselves too seriously in general. If I want to laugh, I almost always pop in a DVD, not a open a book (even if I have reread The Princess Bride and Small Gods several times)

  • Paul

    Sorry, I just thought of another thing. It’s my new theory of messed up marketing. It is this: Hollywood wants to figure out what sort of movies to make. The age and gender of movie goers is easy to determine, so they measure by that. Unfortunately, they cannot determine the IQs of the people going to movies, so that is not a “relevent factor.”

    So they make a good movie and a lot of teenage boys go see it. So they make a lot more teenage boy movies, but don’t always remember to make them good.

    Alternatively, a really good movie comes out about humanized insects (Antz, for example). It makes money, so they figure, hey, lets make a movie about insects that talk, and again, don’t worry so much about it being good,

    I think book publishers do the same thing, because the ultimate decisions are made by guys from the sales departments intead of the editorial department. Sales guys crunch numbers.

    OF course, this doesn’t explain why there hasn’t been a plague of Titantic wannabes. That might have to do more with the culture of the number crunchers; it’s a boy’s club.

  • Shadowen

    No.

    Because most movies are making more money on DVD than in theaters, so going for the theater thing is pretty much bragging rights.

  • MaryAnn

    When Fall swings around horror will pick up again. Action and Horror movies need to smarten up thats all

    Um, action and horror movies are not what I mean when I talk about movies for grownups. I’m talking about movies like the ones mentioned above: *State of Play,* *The Soloist,* *Duplicity.*

    I do not think movies for teens or kids means “dumb.”

    I don’t either (at least not necessarily). But I don’t just want to see movies that are appropriate for small children, no matter how smart and clever and funny and wonderful those movies can sometimes be. I want to see movies about things that might hold no interest for children at all. And those movies are NOT AT ALL the same as stage plays or books.

    What I’m hearing is that the answer to my question is Yes: no one cares about the kinds of movies I’m asking about here, so movies are going to get even more youth oriented than they already are. And by youth I don’t mean “kindergartners,” I mean the 14-24 age group that the big blockbusters are already aimed at. I like some of those movies, too — but I want to see more than just those kinds of movies.

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