Older Faces on Screen Draw an Overlooked Crowd
Brooks Barnes, NYTimes.com
LOS ANGELES — Anytime a film costs $10 million to make and ticket sales approach $100 million, Hollywood pays attention. But jaws really drop when a movie starring actors in their 70s and aimed at people over 50 pulls off that trick.
Wait. Stop. Older people will go to the movies if we give them something to watch besides superheroes and special effects?
Surprise: “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” a gentle comedic drama about disparate British retirees who decamp to India, has so far taken in $88.8 million at the global box office. With about $9.3 million in ticket sales in North America since opening in limited release on May 4, “Marigold Hotel” is now the year’s top-selling specialty movie, passing another solid performer,“Salmon Fishing in the Yemen.”
Fox Searchlight, the mini-studio behind “Marigold Hotel,” is so encouraged by ticket sales that it is racing the film into more cities. Featuring an ensemble cast anchored by Judi Dench and Maggie Smith (both 77), the film will play about 1,230 locations over Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest moviegoing periods of the year, up from 354 last weekend.Box Office Analyst, a forecaster in Kansas City, Mo., said “Marigold Hotel” could play into July and take in $30 million or more in North America by the end of its run.
“It’s supply and demand,” said Doug Stone, the company’s president. “There’s just very little out there that appeals to older people. It’s not like they’re going to rush out to see ‘Chernobyl Diaries.’ ”
The robust reception of “Marigold Hotel” by audiences — critical reaction has been strong but not euphoric — validates Searchlight’s dual business strategies. The studio, part of News Corporation’s 20th Century Fox, spotted a generally overlooked audience (older adults) and went after it. The movie is also a prime example of Searchlight’s overall operating philosophy to aim narrowly, which, when successful, allows the studio to spend small and collect big.
“We felt that this was a great story, but we were also very conscious of the fact that there is a large and underserved older audience out there,” said Stephen Gilula, a Searchlight president. “The response, which is far beyond our expectations, once again shows that there is a very diverse moviegoing audience.”
To read the full article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/24/movies/older-faces-on-screen-draw-an-overlooked-crowd.html?_r=1