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The 50+ Moviegoer: An Industry Segment That Should Not Be Ignored

Mid-life and older cinema-goers -- in particular, those aged 50-plus are a powerful force at the box office. Moviegoers age 50+ make up thirty-one percent (31%) of all moviegoers over age 14 and are more likely to go to the movies than the general population. This white paper, conducted by Movio on behalf of AARP, examines the movie-going habits of adults age 50+ and makes a case for why this audience should not be ignored.

Key findings include:

  • Moviegoers age 50+ make up 31% of all moviegoers over 14 and account for thirty-two percent (32%) of all domestic cinema visits. As a whole, they visit the cinema approximately two percent (2%) more than the general population.

  • Moviegoers age 50+ see an average of 6.8 movies annually, and those over 65 see an average of 7.3 annually.

  • Older adults are critical to the success of several genres of film.

    • Older moviegoers make up seventy-five percent (75%) of all paid ticket visits to Art House movies.

    • They contributed to fifty-six percent (56%) of Christian film visits and fifty-four percent (54%) of Independent films.
  • Moviegoers 50+ drive ticket sales on movies that are marketed specifically to them.

    • For example, the average person aged 50+ who watched Helen Mirren in Woman in Gold attended the cinema 14.5 times over the past year, compared to 6.7 times for the average American moviegoer overall.

    • The Hundred-Foot Journey, Philomena and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel had similar appeal among older moviegoers. 
  • Moreover, older adults have helped establish and support a new genre of film, Mature Thrillers.

    • The study found that fifty-one percent (51%) of the moviegoers who saw Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Taken 3, The November Man and A Walk Amongst The Tombstones, were over age 50 compared with thirty-two percent (32%) for the total American cinema audience.

    • As a whole, older moviegoers account for forty-nine percent (49%) of ticket visits to Mature Thrillers.
  • Moviegoers 50+ also contribute significantly to the success of tentpole films, making up twenty-seven percent (27%) of their audiences.

  • Older adults are less likely to see a movie on opening weekend than the general audience. On average, moviegoers age 50+ see a movie 15.2 days after its release.

  • Seven in ten (70%) of older moviegoers visit the cinema before 6:00 pm.

  • Although sixty-two percent (62%) of moviegoers 50+ visit the cinemas on the weekend, those age 65 or older are more likely to attend on Tuesdays (17%) and Wednesdays (10%) than younger adults.

This white paper was written by Movio on behalf of AARP. Analyses were conducted using Movio’s Movio Media Database and based on a sample of 500,000 U.S. moviegoers who viewed at least one film between August 1, 2015 and August 1, 2016. Quotas were applied to the sampling procedure to ensure demographic distribution that aligned with those cited in the MPAA 2015 Theatrical Market Statistics report. For more information, please contact Oscar Anderson at GAnderson@aarp.org.

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