July 3, 2013

Movies for Seniors: Are There Such Things?

 
Betty and I like movies. The problem we face with each passing year is that movies don't like us. Except for a few notable exceptions, like Quartet or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, movies are not written, produced, or marketed to seniors. Hollywood seems to believe we don't like movies because we don't go to movies.
 
Obviously, they have it backwards: We don't go to movies because there are very few movies for us to like. Imagine my delight when I received the following press release.
 
 A Million Senior Voices

By James Twyman


 "The senior audience just isn't reliable," the man said to me. "Why do you think most movies are made for young people? It's because older people don't go to the movies. If they did, more would be made for them."
I couldn't believe my ears. I was speaking to a distribution "specialist," a consultant to independent producers like myself trying to get their films in front of large audiences. A movie I co-wrote and produced called Redwood Highway was ready to be released, and this man was recommended by a friend to help. According to him, it was a pointless trying to focus on seniors - the group we made Redwood Highway for.
 
"There are over seventy-six million Boomers in the US, and forty-three million people over sixty-five," I said to him. "I'm pretty sure most of them still see movies."
 
The answer was the same. In his mind, and in the minds of many in the film industry, people over fifty-five are not worthy of attention, and are grossly neglected, especially in theaters. An occasional film like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel breaks free and gets some attention, but it's the exception, not the rule.
 
 
That trend is about to change.
 
There is a movement gaining speed, what I like to call Senior Cinema, to which producers, distribution companies and even the big Hollywood studios are starting to pay attention. They're paying attention because they don't have a choice. As the Baby Boom population reaches retirement age, there's an enormous need for quality films with strong senior characters engaged in stories that resonate with them. It's already begun -- movies such as Quartet and Amour being among the latest - but that's only the tip of the iceberg.
 
"What you need are numbers," the man said. "If you're so convinced there's a big audience for films like Redwood Highway, prove it. Get a million seniors to join together and demand better entertainment. I think it's unlikely, but if you can do it, then they'll definitely take notice."
 
A million seniors telling Hollywood that it's time for senior cinema to be taken seriously!  I thought about that for the rest of the day and it didn't take long to realize he was right. It's easy to throw out numbers and data, but a petition with one million names, all of them lending their voices to a campaign for better senior entertainment - that would get some attention.
 
One million signatures may be just a starting place, but it represents something that has never been tapped in the film industry before - the largest demographic in the country standing up and demanding attention. Consider these statistics: The 50+ generation represents 45% of the US population; an American turns 50 every seven seconds, which is more that 12,500 people every day; the 55+ age group controls more than three-fourths of America's wealth; Baby Boomers account for 40% of total consumer demand; and seniors have a net worth 3 times that of younger generations. However you look at it, this is not a generation to take for granted.
 
"I love to go to see movies and I would go more if there were films worth seeing," Karen K., 56, said. "I don't think I'm any different than others my age. The problem isn't in our motivation, it's about choices. I'm not interested in seeing Iron Man 3, but as soon as a movie comes out I can relate to, I'm there."
 
AgeNation is an multi-platform website and organization that caters to "people who weren't born yesterday." Its founder and president George Cappannelli adds, "Boomers and elders are being underestimated. Decision-makers beware. You are not only leaving money on the table, but in ignoring this market you are poking a bear that is about to wake up and bite you. They want more than you are giving them."  
 
So I believe its time to launch this campaign and make our voices heard! We've created a petition and survey that will be distributed to all the key individuals in the movie business. It means that everyone in the industry making decisions about which films get made and which ones don't, or what films will or will not receive proper distribution, will see this report and will have to rekon with its contents. I can already tell what it will reveal -- that the senior community wants and deserves inspiring films that relate to their own lives. Knowing that there are a million people ready to buy tickets to senior-oriented films will be the difference between two movies a year and 20.
 
So, what can you do? It's very simple. Just go to www.seniorcinema.com and fill out the survey. It will only take about two minutes, but the results could be astounding. People like the consultant I met won't be able to dismiss you any longer. The entire film industry will have to take notice, and they will definitely respond. It's up to you. Let your voice be heard and let's go to see some great movies.

 

 
 
About James Twyman:
James Twyman is the New York Times bestselling author of 15 books, as well as the producer/director/writer of five films including the award-winning feature film Indigo. His newest film, Redwood Highway, starring two-time Academy Award nominee Shirley Knight and film legend Tom Skerritt,will debut on National Grandparents Day, Sunday Sept 8, and will be previewed earlier that week in senior residences around the nation. He currently travels around the world promoting films for what he believes to be the most important, and underserved film audience in history - elders. For more info, visit: www.seniorcinemacircle.com   


Satisfying Retirement has no connection to Mr. Twyman, the web sites mentioned, or the movie previewed in the clip above. But, on a personal note I wish him all the luck in the world with Redwood Highway and his campaign to get movies made that appeal to the tens of millions of us who are just waiting for a reason to go back to the local theater.

21 comments:

  1. Just last week my wife & I went to a movie (first time in a very long time) and we watched the previews for new movies coming out - none, absolutely none of them captured our interest. We would definitely go more often if there were movies that appealed to us. Thanks Bob for the survey link!

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    1. We had the same experience. Out of the five previews before the movie there wasn't one we would waste our time or money on.

      Hollywood is so set in its ways I don't know if a million signatures is enough, but it is a strong start.

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  2. I couldn't agree more. We really enjoy watching movies together. However the pickings are slim. We tend to rent from Redbox and watch at home. But the wait is long for something that is suitable to our tastes. We saw Quartet and loved it. Also enjoyed Side Effects. Real twists and turns in the plot that are quite unexpected.

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    1. Redbox has a terrible selection for adults since they rent only recent material. If you don't like slasher, vampire, or teen sex movies...good luck. Quartet was a notable exception.

      When we get desperate we just pull out The Quiet Man, Singing in The Rain, My Fair Lady, or Night at the Museum 2.

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  3. I'm the odd man out on this one. I saw World War Z a few days ago and three or four coming out on the list on want to see. I go to the movies at least twice a month.

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    1. Not so odd...I saw World War Z also with my wife and daughter. It was actually well done. I think that might have been my first zombie movie!

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    2. Ha! Well, I fully admit to wanting to see Iron Man 3 and the final Fast and Furious (albeit in dvd), and that I cannot wait for Killing Season and the sequel to Red. That said, what really truly irks me is the amount of completely, really bad,poorly made so called horror movies out there. Seems like seventy percent of the previews or horrors, not only gory horror flicks, but what look to be poorly made. Also the number of remakes, often of what were not great movies to begin with.....

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    3. I will see the Reds sequel...old people acting tough! I have seen Iron Man 3 and enjoyed it. Tony Stark is more human and has more layers to his personality.

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  4. What a great idea this petition is. I grew up in a labor movement household, so the idea that the way to deal with an injustice is to organize makes complete sense to me. I will definitely go fill out the survey. -Jean

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    1. It will be interesting to see how this works. I know other blogs and web sites have promoted this campaign.

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  5. Malcolm and I have a date night scheduled for July 19th - Reds comes out that day in our town. Until then, we'll just watch reruns on Netflix.

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    1. July 19th? Good. I'll check our local theaters.

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  6. Most of the movies I go to, these days, are kids movies with my grandsons. I enjoy that, but rarely go see anything else. We sometimes go in spurts, usually in the winter. We're fortunate to have some excellent theaters in our area that show art and foreign films, which are much more interesting that what hollywood's throwing out there.
    b

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    1. I probably go to four or five movies a year, some mainstream and some independent/art movies. Pickings are slim.

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  7. Cari in North TexasThu Jul 04, 01:36:00 PM MST

    Excellent commentary on a sad situation. I don't go to movies very often, and my Netflix queue is full of classics. I did see Iron Man 3 and enjoyed it, and the new Star Trek movie looks intriguing. But all in all - vampires, horror, violence? Nah, I'll pass. Now I"m off to do the survey.

    Happy Birthday to our great nation!

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    1. Yes, the new Star Trek is excellent: more personality driven the one from a few years ago.

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  8. Betty and I just saw Unfinished Song with Terrance Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave....a moving movie for our age group. Just be sure to bring some tissues.

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  9. Thanks for the link to the survey Bob. My husband and I enjoy movies, and action flicks are a bit of a guilty pleasure for both of us, as are some of the animated movies such Despicable Me and Up. However, I find many of the newer movies offensive on a lot of levels. Same goes with Network TV. We recently cut the cord on our cable and are watching tv via satellite for local news and Netflix for tv series and movies. I wish we had done this years ago, we're saving almost $80.00 per month and watching things we enjoy instead of "seeing what's on". It would be wonderful to see some new tv series that treat adults with respect.

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    1. We cut a similar amount from our budget when we dumped all but very basic cable almost two years ago. With the new network shows available on line within a day or two, even basic cable is unnecessary. Of course, there are very, very few network shows we bother to watch (Castle, The Glades)

      We just saw Robot and Frank and enjoyed it, plus Unfinished Song, which except for overuse of the "F" word, is moving and well done.

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  10. Wasn't there a movie that came out this year about seniors and dancing? It never made it to the theaters on my side of town. Thanks.

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    1. Do you mean Gotta Dance, about the senior hip-hop crew? There was a very moving film about a grumpy old man who lost his wife and ended up joining her choir. Called "Unfinished Business," it is worth seeing.

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