10th March 2014

The Motion Picture Association of America has published its movie going stats for 2012.  There are some interesting figures to pull out.  Firstly, and this continues the conversation about Women in Film, female attendance is up from 2011 by 1%.  So 52% of women attend cinema versus 48% of men.  This is in relation to population statistics of 51 and 49% respectively.  So Hollywood’s fervent belief that their prime demographic is young men, has been surely eroded.  I wonder whether films such as ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Twilight’ have had an impact on this statistic.

Hispanics continue to grow as a cinema loving demographic and attend the cinema 6.4 times per year (on average per capita) with Caucasions, African Americans and Other attending 4 times a year (on average per capita).  Interestingly, people from Illinois attend the cinema more than people from any other state (again, this is per capita).

In terms of age, 25-39 year olds still go to the cinema the most, with continual rises in attendance for the 60+ age group.  This group now matches 18-24 year olds in attendance so the old adage that teenagers see films the most no longer applies.

So what does this tell American Movie Execs?  Well, firstly, there should be more films that appeal to a female audience. Perhaps this also indicates that there should be more female writers and directors.  Nevertheless, there is no reason why a male writer or director cannot create compelling female characters (Joss Whedon) or why a female writer/director cannot create compelling male characters (Katherine Bigalow).  Still, as women comprise a large percentage of both the population and the cinema going public, their tastes and preferences should be accounted for more than they currently are.

Secondly, the idea that all films should target Caucasian teens is not borne out by the stats.  Having said this, teens are apparently very active over opening weekend.  Especially males. If a film doesn’t open well, it can get pulled from screens and its time in the cinema reduced. So, people should get out to the cinema opening weekend if they want to impact what films are green-lit (via their pocketbook).  A notable point; ‘male teens go opening weekend’ is one of those stats that film professionals often bandy about.  HOWEVER, I have not found any data to support this, so, yeah, do with that what you will…

The final takeaway?  Make a film set in the mid-west, that appeals to 25-39 year olds, with a strong female lead and Hispanic characters and you should be laughing.  But then again, how much does ethnicity and gender impact choice?  This will have to be the subject of another post.

If you want to read the statistics for yourself, click HERE.



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