Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Geriatric Market at the Multiplex

On heartfelt recommendation of Mrs. Buce, I spent a couple of hours in the dark yesterday watching The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which seems to be getting a not-entirely-comprehensible bit of buzz among our circle.  It's a harmless piece of fluff with a few good one-liners; a riff on the Enchanted April plot, where wide-eyed Brits dip their toe into an alien pond, find charming and eccentric natives, flashes of self-insight, and the odd bit of nookie.  Not the worst way to spend a summer Monday afternoon; hey, it was air conditioned.  

But what  intrigued me was not the picture per se but the context.  It's billed as a movie about "outsourcing eldercare," so you have some hint they aren't shooting for the preteen market.  It's also  billed as having a strong cast and yes, that's right, with the qualification that you have to be of a certain age to remember who the hell Judi Dench and Maggie Smith are.

And beyond the movie itself: there were three previews, all romances, which seems like good cross-marketing.  One of them seemed to involve actors who probably weren't  even born the last time I went to an afternoon movie.   But the  other two--they seemed to involve actors at least as superannuated as anything in the Marigold Hotel.  Oh look, here's Woody Allen, who was making $1,500 a week writing scripts for Sid Caesar (who?) back around 1954.  And here's Tommy Lee Jones, a veritable stripling who didn't make his Broadway debut until 1969.  "Children!" I wanted to shout, "do you have any idea who these people are?  And by the way, did you know that you can make popcorn without a microwave?"

What we have here, then, is something I didn't know existed: a wrinklies-and-crumblies demographic, an audience so old they can't quite remember which members of the "main" movie audience are really their grandchildren and which are not.  An audience, in short, perhaps no more than 15 years younger than myself.  What a curiosity to find that the entertainment machine has generated at least three movies with us in the crosshairs.

1 comment:

Ken Houghton said...

Judi Dench is in the Daniel Craig Bond films; Dame Maggie is in the Harry Potter series.

They're marketing to the generation after the one that only knows Harry Morgan from M*A*S*H, the tv version.