Thursday, 26 August 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #582: Kids These Days...

Welcome to the show folks...

We have another reader question, and since this reader didn't follow my comment policy about using names they must face the branding! Bwah-hah-hah-hah!
DIRTY DINGUS MCGEE ASKED-- Here's a good question for Furious D, what films are watched by large numbers of younger film goers? Scott Pilgrim was supposed to be their kind of film, but they did not turn up in large numbers to see it.
Some studios and media companies spend millions every year trying to find out what kids, specifically teenagers, these days want, and it isn't easy.

It was easier in the 1950s to the late 1960s when the "youth" or "teen" market in movies was dominated by American International Pictures, and its boss Samuel Z. Arkoff. Arkoff followed his ARKOFF formula for making movies that sold to teenagers. It went something like...

Action- Excitement, danger, and melodrama.

Revolution- Controversial or edgy subject matter.

Killing- Violence, fighting, shooting, and explosions if you can afford them.

Oratory- Catchy and memorable dialogue.

Fantasy- Acting out common audience fantasies (racing cars, visiting outer space, exotic travel).

Fornication- Sex appeal. (Just enough to get attention, but not enough to get censored)

They also had another plan for finding out what kids were looking for in movies, which they called the
Peter Pan Principle:
a) a younger child will watch anything an older child will watch;

b) an older child will not watch anything a younger child will watch;

c) a girl will watch anything a boy will watch

d) a boy will not watch anything a girl will watch;

therefore-to catch your greatest audience you zero in on the 19-year old male.
Now you're probably wondering how things have changed.

Well, they no longer targ
et the 19 year old male. Because nowadays he's in his first year in college and is too busy discovering beer, casual sex, sleep deprivation, and credit card/student loan debt to be the taste-maker that they once used to be.

Right now, the target audience is the 12-14 year old girl.

They have money, they will spend it, and spend it freely, over and over again.

So how do you tap this market?

You tell them what to like.

Disney mastered this with the younger set, and you can do it with the teeny-boppers too.

Some of you will say I'm talking pure balderdash, at least the Edwardian aristocrats among you will, but hear me out.

It's not just a matter of saying "Buy this and be cool." You have to make it "their thing" something that no one else would even
want to like.

Look at the music performers the younger teens are swooning over. It's all fingernails on a chalkboard to any older demographic. So they go for it with both hands, spending freely on the music, the merchandise, and all the other assorted crap.

The moment adults begin to endorse it, they run away screaming to find another corporate contrived rebellion to spend their parent's money on.

Which brings me to my theory for the failure of Scott Pilgrim VS The World.

This film was heavily marketed to the youth market.

But the pop-culture references, subject matter, and style found in the film made the over 25 audience go "Oooh, that's kick-ass!"

That was the first ring of the death knell.

The kids saw the older people going all fanboy over the movie, and opted to stay away.
They only want stuff that only their demographic wants, not what anyone else might want.

The older people saw the youth-oriented marketing campaign, and opted to stay home and catch it on home video because they didn't want to be stuck in a theater with a pack of dead-eyed, slack-jawed teeny-boppers who won't get all the jokes, partially because of ignorance, but partly because they'll be busy exchanging catty text messages during the movie.

So you ended up with both demographics avoiding the film in the theater, while still "trending" about it on Twitter.

That's my theory, what's yours?


  1. je pressman27/8/10 3:49 am

    Well my theory regarding the demise of Scott Pilgrim has to do with assuming, ie; assuming that ALL tweens, teens and twenty somethings would be dying to see this movie. Who was the source of that wisdom? There are niche groups,and movies made specifically for said niche groups...hardly any crossover from other groups.The movie business has become too fragmented.I for one could care less about the travails of teenage vampires, so that even if that kind of movie does big business..well that has nothing to do with me.The same for other niche movies.The kind of general admission,national cinema experience is over. It's every niche for itself. A movie comes alomg once in awhile,like Blind Side,which a broader movie public embraces,but the ,"critics" give it a hard time cause they prefer those dismal bleak made for Oscar attention small budget indie films,which are a chore to sit through.These days critics are often lousy judges of what a good story actually is. Anyhow Furious the real question I asked was,what do younger film fans go to see these days? Aside from movies with zombies, mutant space creatures, super heros,video game action stuff, funny movies featuring projectile vomiting, penis jokes and really plain -faced guys?

  2. Blast Hardcheese27/8/10 10:08 am

    Ooh, can I be an Edwardian aristocrat? I like monocles!

    My own take on the "SPVTW" failure is more wishful thinking than anything else, but here goes:

    People are tired of seeing losers as the hero. Michael Cena has pretty much built his career so far on being the slacker/dorky/doofus guy who doesn't do much. So, in spite of the unique presentation, the basic story is of a slacker who gets the beautiful girl anyway. Now compare w/ "The Expendables". Nobody's going to confuse it with Shakespeare, but the film is about a group of guys who, admittedly, have a limited skill set (killing people and breaking things) but they are very very good at it.

    That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

  3. je pressman27/8/10 7:40 pm

    It's a good theory.However I think that there is a good bit of affection for Willis, Stallone, AND Schwartzenegger. These guys have been around for decades and they created some long-lasting iconic characters. These guys are hardly ,"has beens",they've never actually been away in the minds of people who like their films. So much for the notion that movies don't need movie stars.Heck even Toy Story 3 had Hanks as the cowboy.