Older moviegoers on the rise

People head into the Arclight movie theater in Hollywood.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

The baby boomers are booming again. At least at the box office.

According to a study by the Motion Picture Assn. of America, the number of older frequent moviegoers -- people over the age of 40 who see a movie once a month or more -- was on the rise last year.

This finding could lead movie studios, production companies and film financiers to make more movies that cater to adult audiences.


According to the MPAA, last year there were 5.8 million people ages 40 to 49 who saw a film once a month or more, up significantly from 3.3 million in 2011.

The study also found that the number of frequent moviegoers ages 50 to 59 increased over the same period, to 3.3 million from 3.1 million. And those in the 60-and-up age group rose to 4.6 million from 4.1 million.

Film industry veteran Russell Schwartz, the former president of theatrical marketing for New Line Cinema, said that the MPAA study could buoy independent film financiers and companies such as the Weinstein Co. and Relativity Media that already make films targeting adult audiences.

“It bodes well for their slates,” he said. “It is encouraging that the audience they are making movies for is growing.”

Roughly 76 million Americans were born during the baby boom years of 1946 to 1964, and they came out in force last year. Six of the nine best picture nominees at last month’s Academy Awards earned more than $100 million at the domestic box office, and many were films directed at an older audience.

Warner Bros.’ “Argo,” which won the Oscar for best picture, has grossed $135 million domestically. DreamWorks Studios’ “Lincoln” topped them all with a domestic take of $182 million.

Schwartz does not think the major studios will shake up their slates as a result of the MPAA’s finding or last year’s abundance of best picture nominees that were also hits.

“I don’t think we are going to see a major shift from the studios’ perspective because they are chasing another million frequent moviegoers,” he said. “But I think it validates that, whatever they have on their slate, they can be comfortable that there is an audience for it.”


Warner stumbles, hopes to do better at box office

Oscars may pave way for more movies aimed at grown-ups

International box office revenue soared in 2012, MPAA reports

Follow @DanielNMiller