Just when many in the mainstream media were writing off 2014’s Millennial attendance as the beginning of the end to a long love affair the movies have had with adolescents and young adults, the release of the latest installment of the hugely successful Fast & Furious franchise, Furious 7, re-ignited the power of the silver screen to attract droves of young people to the local bijou.
According to Screen Engine/ ASI, they surveyed over 1,300 attendees to Furious 7 this past weekend and reported the film to have an audience profile of 61% under the age of 25! That is, roughly estimated, nearly 11 million attendees aged 13-24, which comprised better than half (52%) of Furious 7’s total movie-going audience.
To give these kinds of numbers perspective, one might ask, “What can we compare them to?” Well, actually, the answer is ”nothing” -- at least nothing that ran on TV this past weekend, including the NBA Final Four or A.D. The Bible Continues.
Figures like those above are pretty impressive and indicate in no uncertain terms Cinema’s viability as a large audience-grabbing source that might not readily come to the mind of many media mavens.
Additionally, while Cinema’s 1st Quarter 2015 demographic numbers are only available through February as of this writing, the audience delivery of Persons 18-34 (aka Millennials) is outperforming this time last year by almost 26%, 86,517,781 vs. 68,802,516. In fact, if you just look at the 86 million Millennials that Cinema is delivering through the end of February, it is pacing at 82% of 1st Quarter 2014. Or to put it another way, Millennials would have to stop going to the movies altogether for 1st Quarter 2015 not to exceed last year’s performance.
I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen, and another thing Millennials certainly won’t stop doing is prowling the social media environment, which fuels their movie-going motivation. We know that there is no group more connected or active in social media than Millennials, and when an event likeFurious 7 hit the theaters, they pounced. Last Monday, Business Insider wrote a story on the successful global release of Furious 7 and in it they touched upon the fact that the film’s “huge social footprint,” as well as its multi-cultural cast, had an enormous effect on driving the appeal of this film franchise with Millennials. The Fast & Furious Facebook page alone has over 55 million likes, which totals more than the combined Marvel and Star Wars franchises! With ethnically diverse actors like Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris all sharing behind-the-scenes stories to some degree with their social media fan base, this particular franchise understood precisely how it needed to reach its audience in ways that neither pandered to them nor exploited the tragedy that surrounded Paul Walker’s death.
We know that movies ignite the social conversation, but what really promises to draw long lines of Millennials to the local multiplex this year is the excellent line-up of films slated throughout 2015, and not just the summer. Well-established franchises like Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spectre, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, Fantastic Four, Minions and Ted 2, along with several past franchises that are being re-booted such as Jurassic World, Terminator Genysis, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Mad Max: Fury Road and Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, will be released in a steady stream all year long, and both the 2D and 3D versions are eagerly awaited by Millennials. But aside from the “added dimension” of this year’s slate of action/adventure films, there are a host of new movies that are also generating strong buzz. Among them are titles like Tomorrowland, Ant-Man, The Walk, The Martian and what many are predicting to be the breakout hit of summer 2015, Inside Out, Pixar’s first summer release in two years. (After having seen an advanced snippet specially screened at NCM’s Upfront event last summer I can tell you I intend to be one of the first in line to see it.) This howlingly funny animated film is told from the perspective of the emotions inside the mind of a little girl and sports a cast of well-recognized voices including Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, Mindy Kaling and Lewis Black.
If this season’s titles can’t draw Millennials or others away from their digital devices, then it will no longer be a question of whether or not they are abandoning movie-going. They will be abandoning the planet!
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