Movies

‘Going in Style’ serves as a reminder that older people watch movies too

When you think of the typical movie audience, you probably don’t immediately think about your grandparents. While teenagers are a great audience for movies, there’s also a certain stability in creating films for older, retired audiences. They have the money and the time to enjoy films, too. With a respectable opening weekend, “Going in Style” — the story of three longtime friends on a mission to defeat the bank that lost all their money  — proves it.

Movie studios love making movies for older audiences for a different reason than the reason they love making them for teenagers — the purchasing behavior could not be more different. For big blockbusters, audiences typically rush out on the first weekend, then sales drop dramatically. Sometimes, these sales peak on the first day they come out, and then fall off a cliff. For films with older audiences, though, the opening weekend is usually tepid. But then these movies “leg out,” meaning they have small week to week drops, and end up with a surprisingly large gross.

For instance, “Captain America: Civil War” made 44 percent of its gross in its opening weekend, while a film like “The Intern” only made 23 percent of its gross in its opening weekend. Additionally, while Blockbusters typically lose their luster after their theatrical runs, films generated towards older audience usually have extremely healthy home video and on-demand sales, and even play great on TV.

Earlier this year, AARP, which obviously has a somewhat biased perspective, conducted a study where they concluded that their user base of people aged 50 and older are a significant force the movies should not ignore. They found these groups make up a significant portion of older themed films and blockbusters, but are also significant contributors to art-house cinema and independent film. While it might seem that the newest Superhero movies are keeping movie theaters running, it is this group of older audiences that are making sure that quality fare enters the theater.

 

In terms of “Going in Style,” there is plenty of money still to be made in the coming weeks. Warner Bros. has released a film that not only appeals to the over 50 audience, but can also draw in all ages. While movie stars are not the sell they once were, the trio of Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin are about as hard of a sell as you can find, and director Zach Braff can engage and mobilize his younger skewing fanbase to see this film.

2017 has been an interesting year so far, but one thing that’s encouraging is seeing the success of non-franchise fare. “Going in Style” is the kind of movie we don’t see too often in theaters anymore — and even less do we see its type succeed. While the film might be a remake, its contemporary setting makes it an original and human movie, with no objective other than to entertain for a few hours. It doesn’t have to be a mind-blowing experience, but just a great way to spend an afternoon.

Erik Benjamin is a junior television, radio and film major. His column appears weekly in Pulp. He can be reached at ebenjami@syr.edu or on Twitter @embenjamin14.

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