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The Shifting Hollywood Audience - Women are the Future

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by Melissa Silverstein
July 16, 2014 4:20 PM
5 Comments
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The box office is down this summer in the US. And when the box office is down, especially in summer, it makes folks nervous. So all across Hollywood people are trying to figure out what went wrong. The good news is that there have been no big box office disasters like last summer's RIPD or The Lone Ranger, but the fact is that people especially young people seem to not be going to the movies. Data shows that the youth demographic of frequent moviegoers (ones who go at least once a month) is down between 15 and 17%

Interestingly, women, the entire gender that Hollywood has in the past dismissed because we were "unreliable" are shockingly becoming the most reliable audience out there. No shit. We've been saying this for years.

The Wrap reported on the growth of Latina women earlier this week, and now The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that the tent poles are suffering this summer because they are not interesting women. 

So if you get less young people going to the movies, and you don't create movies that women want to see - and let's also not forget that women make the buying decisions - you are screwed. As I have said time and again it's the women that help these tent poles become the successes that they are. It's the women who pushed Iron Man 3 over the top. Tent poles don't become blockbusters without women, yet it is clear and has been for some time, women can create a success ala Twilight and the Fault in Our Stars, yet men do not have the same ability.

So the lesson for Hollywood is to create tent poles and movies that are in the multiplexes that will interest women -- especially ones over 25 -- because the data shows that Hollywood has done a shitty job in creating the moviegoing habit for young people. But beware, don't just create a female character that is not integral to the story, make a movie where women matter.

We all know that there will always be successes that defy the data, but these demographic issues are going to continue to shift and it would be smart if Hollywood figured out how to create product that is original and interesting for all different kinds of demographics. Maybe we are moving back towards a world where we will see movies for adults at the multiplex with regularity. 

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5 Comments

  • Noe Martinez | July 18, 2014 10:05 PMReply

    These facts are bluntly honest. It’s true that movie production studios have neglected the women audience. It’s time to change that mentality if they expect them to turn these box office sales around. The key in this of course is to start making movies centered on strong female characters. A couple of options in structure to follow in order to make strong well rounded female characters are to be structured around the concept of the Bechdel Test and/or the Mako Mori Test. These two options in structure can increase the possibility of creating interesting female characters which will engage the female audience. Those are not the only ways of achieving that goal, but they are a good way to start. Only time will tell if movie studios will finally start to change their ways.

  • Noe Martinez | July 18, 2014 10:01 PMReply

    These facts are bluntly honest. It’s true that movie production studios have neglected the women audience. It’s time to change that mentality if they expect them to turn these box office sales around. The key in this of course is to start making movies centered on strong female characters. A couple of options in structure to follow in order to make strong well rounded female characters are to be structured around the concept of the “Bechdel Test” and/or the “Mako Mori Test.” These two options in structure can increase the possibility of creating interesting female characters which will engage the female audience. Those are not the only ways of achieving that goal, but they are a good way to start. Only time will tell if movie studios will finally start to change their ways.

  • CollegeStudent2014 | July 18, 2014 9:52 PMReply

    When reading this I completely agree with Hollywood not understanding their movies are successful because they do not realize their target audiences. I recently took a women in films class and I believe that the reason Hollywood does not understand the fact that women are the majority of movie audiences is because the industry is mostly men. Many men make the blockbuster films making the women characters seem really plain, unintelligent, and not relatable to women. Films such as Dawn of The Planet of The Apes, has one woman that barley speaks, the movie is mostly about men and the woman are never seen. This movie is successful because in the movie it almost depicts how if men were to rule there is chaos. I believe women enjoy this film not just because of the action, and drama but because they can see themselves being strong in these characters even though they are men. The film was made not to target just men but also women which makes this successful movie. The movie may not pass the Bechdel test but it may be a start for Hollywood to move away from films that make women very stereotypical such as the Transformers series. These films have one woman that looks good no matter what chaos is happening and she constantly needs saving because she somehow always finds into trouble. Women do not want to see them depicted as damsels in distress all the time, they want to see a strong woman who depends on herself. The Transformers movies are basically focusing on masculinity and use of heavy subjective shots of the women. Women do not wish to see themselves continuously in a subjective shot through a movie. I believe that for Hollywood to continue to grow and expand is by noticing their target audience and make films women can relate their lives to those of the characters. I feel that Hollywood could start developing movies that include strong independent woman, maybe a few subjective shots of men, and this way they are recognizing that women are their main audience.

  • Juniper | July 16, 2014 6:50 PMReply

    The numbers about the Latina women surprised me, it's an interesting growth..I wonder what movies got them in those theater seats. And I was sorry to hear that a movie like Jupiter Ascending is being pushed back to february..from the trailer I gleamed that the story has a woman at it centre and could have made for an interesting summer blockbuster with a leading woman. Just like Edge of Tomorrow with Emily Blunt and the upcoming Guardians O' the Galaxy with Zoe Saldana. Though there is still a discussion to be had about the representation of these female characters, it's still great to see that they exist. The return of a character like Princess Leia.

  • Linn D. | July 16, 2014 6:06 PMReply

    I would love to see the correlation between income and movie going habits. For example, I would imagine in addition to video games, youtube, etc., part of the reason young men are not going to the movie theaters as often is because they are making less money and cannot afford to. While women's income is increasing, in general. Especially younger women who are graduating from college in larger numbers and progressing further in their careers. (the fact they hit a glass ceiling when they get to upper mgmt is a different topic) Side note: Women are more social (supposedly) so going to a movie theater to see a film could be feeding that social need.

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