Teens and Moviegoing

There is an interesting article by Daniel Frankel and Brent Lang at The Wrap discussing the decline in movie attendance by teenagers. They note that box office attendance was down 5% in 2010 and that box office revenue is down 13% so far in 2011 (even with all of the 3D movies). More tellingly, they point out that a number of films that should target teens–Fast Five, for example–have a much smaller than expected proportion of viewers who are teenagers.

Frankel and Lang offer a number of hypotheses. Scott at Go Into the Story explores one of these theories: the idea that teenagers no longer have “the same loyalty to movie theaters as a delivery system,” especially given that watching on computers or on big screen TVs offset some of the advantages of watching on the big screen. There is probably some truth to that claim, although I think that movie theaters and other semi-public spaces continue to offer a way for teens to get out of the house on a weekend night.

My guess is that one of the biggest disadvantages of going to theaters is that they are pricing teenagers out of buying tickets. With 3D tickets sometimes exceeding $12-13, it is little wonder that many teens feel like they can’t afford to pay for a night at the movies. I’m a little less convinced that movies themselves seem antiquated to a generation that grew up playing video games and going online, as Frankel and Lang speculate, but it’s certainly a trend worth watching and something that would seem to shape the kinds of movies that get produced in the future.

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