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The Movie Purchasing Power of the “Grey Pound” Group

4 min read

Retirement means a lot of things to different people. Some garden, some travel and others take up once insurmountable hobbies such as painting. However, what everyone can agree on is that retirement provides ample time to engage in activities that were once difficult to fit into previously busy schedules. Going to the movies is one such activity.

Movie attendees ages 55+ make up 20% of theater audiences. This is a significant portion. Yet production companies tend to ignore this in favor of the 16-34 age group as they make up 35% of movie attendees. This is why, for 2022, the top 10 movies included such fare as Avatar, Doctor Strange and The Batman.

However these are not necessarily ‘go-to' movies for the ‘grey pound' crew. The 55+ age groups are turned off by heavy special effects. Rather they enjoy movies which are more realistic and relatable.

It is a shame that options are limited. Those in their silver years comprise 18% of the population yet control 80% of the UK's wealth. They are 47% of the consumer market.

With all that free time and a desire to engage in social activities, these pensioners remain an untapped movie market. To be fair, it's not as though theaters haven't tried to lure in an older audience. Many places offer senior citizen discounts; some even have dedicated ‘silver screenings'.

Although studios have released movies geared towards pensioners, they are far and few between. But when released, they have all been box office hits.

What's the winning formula for these ? They star familiar actors who were big names in the 1970's and 1980's (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro). The plot usually centers around a quartet of friends. The characters are well developed, and are cognizant of their later years. There is flirting and other sexual innuendo. Romantic interludes are not shied away from. It's a combination that works.

In 2018, the movie Book Club was released. The movie, starring Diane Keaton, Candace Bergen, Jane Fonda and Andy Garcia, was a box office hit, grossing $104M worldwide. The plot is simple, centering around a women's book club who decide to read '50 Shades of Grey'. The ladies are reinvigorated by the pulpy tome and with a newfound confidence go out into the world. Funny, highly engaging and a blockbuster? Clearly there needed to be a sequel.

On 12 May Book Club: The Next Chapter will be released. Here the girls decide to take a trip to Italy. Who hasn't dreamed of going there for some fun in the sun? The trailer shows us the ladies in Rome and Venice. A young, fit cop provides some eye candy. Again, it taps into an older generations desire to be social, travel, be sexually desirable and have some fun while they are at it.

However, before we are blessed with Book Club 2, 80 For Brady is set for release on 23 March. Jane Fonda pops up in this film as well. She is joined by stars Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Lily Tomlin and Harry Hamlin. Unlike the women in Book Club, these women are more sports focused. The ladies decide to take a trip to the 2017 Superbowl in order to watch Tom Brady play. Hijinks ensue. It has already been a hit in the United States, earning $38M. Likely it will also be a hit here in the UK and worldwide.

Before one thinks all these films are female focused, we've had plenty of male films geared towards an older generation. For example, 2013 brought us Last Vegas. The movie starred Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Robert De Niro and Morgan Freeman. Here the men take a trip to Las Vegas for a bachelor party. There are some funny asides and references to their previous blockbusters, such as Raging Bull and Sophie's Choice. Last Vegas made $134M at the box office.

As the UK's population continues to age, there will be a growing market for movies that cater to older audiences. Studios should consider it a good business decision to meet the growing demand. Plus it's important to have movies geared towards the 55+ age group. This generation has unique experiences and perspectives that are worth exploring on the big screen. They shouldn't be made to feel left out by movies which cater towards a younger demographic.

Lastly, it's just nice seeing the stars of yesteryear on screen. Jane Fonda is as amazing in films now as she was in 1971's Klute. Kevin Kline is as talented as he was in A Fish Called Wanda. All movie attendees would benefit from seeing these talented actors on screen.