A solution to film piracy and theater attendance in America: make movies for grownups?


February 9, 2009
Opinion by Scott Mendelson


Gran Torino and Taken. What do these two films have in common? They both were made by, about, and for adult audiences. They both opened well above expectations, at number one for the weekend box office, with $29.4 million and $24.7 million respectively. They both achieved these results with a majority of audience members who were 25 years old or older. Oh, and both of these films had DVD-quality bootleg copies widely available on the Internet months before the wide release date.

So letís play devilís advocate and believe the studiosí claims that one of the main reasons that kids arenít going to the movies as much is because they are downloading them illegally online. And letís for a moment acknowledge that one of the main reasons grown ups arenít going to the movies is because the films in wide release are usually aimed at teens and young adults. Letís also concede that one of the main drawbacks of theater attendance is having to view a film aimed at juveniles while said kids engage in all manner of disruptive behavior during the film (texting, talking, walking around the theater, etc*).

OK, so if grown ups donít go to theaters because the films are aimed at kids (and the kids are obnoxious), and the kids are going in declining numbers to films aimed at them because they have other ways to spend their time and/or they are downloading those kid-friendly movies off of Bit Torrent, then might the solution be obvious? What if studios were to make more grown-up friendly movies all year round?Well, in theory, the adults would show up, the kids would see something else and not bother them, and said adult films wouldnít get downloaded because the target demographic doesnít know how or doesnít care to download said films anyway. And since most grown up dramas and thrillers are more cast-driven than FX-charged, the films would be much cheaper to make (and theoretically cheaper to market, since you could concentrate on traditional advertising methods).Iíd argue that the same pattern might hold for family films like Paul Blart: Mall Cop, but thatís a rant for another day. Just a thought. Scott Mendelson


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