Old movie-going habits make a comeback
Seniors are proving to be saviors of struggling theaters
Tuesdays are the new Fridays, at least for Madrid's movie theaters. Because on Tuesdays in June anyone over the age of 60 pays just one euro to go to any one of the city's 450 cinemas. The effect is noticeable. Even more so in 2012 when the Madrid Region Senior Citizens Film Program coincided with Euro 2012 and the economic crisis. In the last few weeks, Tuesdays have seen bigger box office receipts than the traditionally busy days of Friday and Saturday.
More than 2.7 million moviegoers have taken part in the scheme's seven editions to date and last year "77.22 percent of moviegoers on Tuesdays came from this program," Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre recently revealed.
Last weekend the top 20 films at the box office took in little more than five million euros, 3.2 million of which came from one film, Tengo ganas de tí. The previous week they took in four million, and the one before that, when Euro 2012 started, they barely reached 3.5 million. "Around the world the moviegoers are the teenagers," says distributor Fox. "And in Spain the crisis and the soccer has directly hit this segment of the population. On the other hand, the older crowd keeps on going without changing their habits."
Fox provides the best example of current trends. First, because it put back the release of Ridley Scott's much-anticipated Alien prequel Prometheus: although already released globally, in Spain it was delayed by the soccer. Second, one of its films, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, starring older actors and aimed at this audience, has earned a decent 3.5 million euros at the Spanish box office.
Although there are no age-related studies on Spanish moviegoers, UK newspaper The Guardian recently reported that a third of Hollywood productions were made with adult audiences in mind - the figures have caught the major studios' attention. Between 1995 and 2010 the number of over-50s who regularly go to the movies grew 68 percent in the US, while in 2010 the number of moviegoers between 18 and 24 fell 12 percent.
"We have lost nearly 12 million moviegoers, above all young people, who have especially turned their backs on Spanish titles," notes Adolfo Blanco of A contracorriente, the Spanish distributor of more sophisticated fare such as The Intouchables and Monsieur Lazhar. "We are losing our natural market: the native one. As for older people, it's clear that the habit of going to movies comes back with age."