Audience Demographics: His versus Hers


Ladies, we’ve all done it at least once. The last movie I went to see with my dad was the Star Trek reboot. While he sat lost in nostalgia in the J.J. Abrams cinematic experience, I was overdosing on popcorn and checking the time on my phone. Why did I do it, you ask? Well other than for my father, probably for the same reason all females have. It’s only a movie. It’s bright, shiny, stuff blows up, bam…2 1/2 hours later, you’re back home safe with your Liz Lemon and Awkward Black Girl streaming. However, here’s a little didyaknow? of the day:

Movie studio execs use “demographic quadrants” when marketing the next box office hit. In the hilariously revealing “The Day The Movies Died” by Mark Harris of GQ.com, he explains this magical quadrant is divided first by gender (male and female) and by age group (over 25 and under 25). Harris is kind enough to let us in on the biggest (yet obvious) secret of them all:

That leaves one quadrant—men under 25—at whom the majority of studio movies are aimed…That’s why, when you look at the genres that currently dominate Hollywood—action, raunchy comedy, game/toy/ride/comic-book adaptations, horror…they’re all aimed at the same ADD-addled, short-term-memory-lacking, easily excitable testosterone junkie.

How many more daughters, girlfriends, wives, or female friends have to be dragged to sit through the above mentioned “man-child” quadrant? And even if we do care for incessant car chases, sex-ridden antics, comic book re-reboots and scantily clad women, it’s near blasphemy should we ask for the men to see a women-centered movie in return.

Now that we know who the suits at the top are trying to attract, let’s guess who’s getting left out in the cold? Harris spills the beans on that too:

 If you, for instance, have a vagina, you’re pretty much out of luck, because women, in studio thinking, are considered a niche audience that, except when Sandra Bullock reads a script or Nicholas Sparks writes a novel, generally isn’t worth taking the time to figure out. And if you were born before 1985… well, it is my sad duty to inform you that in the eyes of Hollywood…the closer you get to your thirtieth birthday, the more likely you are to develop things like taste and discernment, which render you such an exhausting proposition in terms of selling a movie that, well, you might as well have a vagina. 

So not only are there few women directors, producers and writers in the industry, but now you’re telling me that the entire female demographic (under 25 and over) is practically invisible in the traditional film marketing equation? See, folks this is why we start blogs like IndiesUnchained. Because you need to know the facts to conquer these structures of sexism and ageism in the film business. And yes, it is a business first. THEY know that hundreds of Moviegoer Janes will see “GUY MOVIE” with their boyfriends so they don’t even worry about greenlighting the next original female-oriented project because it’s all about pleasing Moviegoer Joe-under-25. So, this is my call to action to the ignored quadrants. Money talks! Women, of all ages, must stop compromising at the box office. For every Mission Impossible or Sherlock Holmes sequel you see against your will, bring/drag a male to see a film with a female lead like PARIAH or YOUNG ADULT. Rent them THE HELP from Redbox or load their Netflix Queue with I WILL FOLLOW. We have to take back the box office in the name of female oriented film.

The numbers don’t lie. According the MPAA, in 2010, women bought half of the total movie tickets sold  AND were 51% of the moviegoers. When barely 30% of females made up speaking roles in film (via Women and Hollywood), there has got to be accountability put on female moviegoers to fill the seats of the good women’s films with men too. It’s really easy to say “Well if there were more female writers, directors, producers, we wouldn’t have this problem.” We’re never going to get anywhere with that attitude. Just try rotating between his movies and yours. While I wasn’t thrilled (along with a lot of females) with the “Chick flicks don’t have to suck” marketing of BRIDESMAIDS, I was ecstatic that my male friends enjoyed the flick. That film, despite being called the “female Hangover” changed the game on what THEY think women and men want in films about women. If we’re ever going to have another box office hit featuring an entire cast of funny women, we, the vaginas quadrant need to show Hollywood that the guys can appreciate dynamic reflections of females just as much as we do.

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8 thoughts on “Audience Demographics: His versus Hers

  1. Sean Temple says:

    And when Hollywood actually makes films for women they believe women want to see New Years Eve or This Means War (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsAqVvlR5DQ). Loved this article Christina.

  2. Laura P. says:

    Hey now, I’m a lady and my Spock loving and easily entertained inner nerd enjoyed Star Trek, harumph! Cool post Stina, and I’ll let your Sci-fi blasphemy slide this time.

  3. great post, very informative. I wonder why the other experts of this sector don’t notice this. You should continue your writing. I’m sure, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!

  4. […] I’m not even exaggerating. Remember, studios are always going for the under 25 male demo (refresher course here). Mark your calendars now because the months of May, June, July and August are bursting to the […]

  5. […] Audience Demographics: His versus Hers by Christina B. […]

  6. […] See women’s films in theaters- Another simple request, right? I nearly fell out of my chair when I saw that limited release YOUNG ADULT was playing at my small-town multiplex. So I went to see it in a real theater with my best female friend. Our paltry $18 may not turn heads with studio execs but you better believe I’ve told every person I’ve met since that they need to see this movie. I did the same thing with BRIDESMAIDS and I WILL FOLLOW last year. As Ava DuVernay (director of I WILL FOLLOW & MIDDLE OF NOWHERE) said in her latest interview with Black Enterprise Magazine, “…buying a ticket. That’s how you help the next woman make her film.” It’s not enough to just see a film because there’s a woman on the poster. Find out who’s behind the camera and what HER name is. We have to champion our celluloid sisters with our dollars. That’s how box office politics work. If you think you don’t have an impact, check out my earlier post: Audience Demographics (His versus Hers). […]

  7. […] Audience Demographics: His versus Hers by Christina B. […]

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