Some Very Good News For Story Lovers and Baby Boomers

January 18, 2012

As I have noted here before, 2011 was a particularly awful year for theatrical movies, not just from a quality standpoint, but also at the box office where attendance fell to its lowest level in sixteen years. While there were a few wonderful films (such as those mentioned below), the overall number of them was distressingly low.

In Bringing Back The Old Hollywood, I listed the many reasons why The New Hollywood is on a collision course with disaster. I am very happy to report that both the media and the industry itself are now beginning to wake to the fact that the movie ship of state has been steaming full throttle into reef-infested waters and needs a major course correction before it’s too late.

One of the major points of my book is that The New Hollywood has abandoned storytelling in favor of technology, sequels, remakes, and commercial tie-ins. In so doing, it has adopted a myopic focus on audiences in their teens and twenties to the exclusion of everyone else, including we baby boomers.

Just for the record, we boomers don’t take too well to being ignored.

Fortunately, the attendance figures in 2011 and the number of quality films based on real, human, life-affirming stories were both so paltry that some soul-searching actually seems to be occurring.

For example, on Sunday, January 16, 2012, the New York Times featured a wonderful article on film producer Lindsay Doran’s “radical” concept that audiences are really yearning for more films that have positive themes. That this article appeared in the Times’ Sunday Arts and Leisure section is significant because that section, and the Times’ movie critics, have been at the forefront of supporting dark, nihilistic movies for years.

Interestingly enough, on that very same day, The Golden Globes Awards show was televised. Aside from the shockingly bad taste and manners of host Ricky Gervais and some of the presenters, the nominations and awards were an encouraging reflection of what might be a sea change in film appreciation. Wonderful, positive, ultimately life-affirming films such as The Artist, Hugo, The Descendants, and Midnight in Paris received numerous nominations and some significant wins as well. With the exception of Hugo, all of those films were made and marketed to the over thirty crowd. Hugo and The Artist were also both focused on the glories of The Old Hollywood. Imagine that!

The recognition for all those films augurs well for this year’s Academy Awards as well. Last year, The Kings’ Speech won Best Picture at the Oscars but it was pretty much alone in the realm of positive, life-enhancing, story-based, adult-oriented films that were nominated. Not so this year.

In short, we baby boomers are beginning to make our voices heard….and felt.

Also in that vein, I was interested to read in “USA Today” about the television demographic of the audience for  “American Idol”, which has been the number one-rated show on television for the last seven years. After Simon Cowell departed in 2010, the producers made a concerted effort to make a huge tonal shift and tailor the show for an older audience. To even attempt such a thing in the age of “gotta be hip and cool for the eighteen to forty-nine year old demo” is pretty courageous. (Please note that, at sixty-three, host/rocker Steven Tyler is definitely a boomer.)

And, it worked! Last year, “Idol” audiences averaged twenty-five million viewers and I was  amazed to discover that fourteen million of those viewers were  over the age of fifty. That’s almost sixty per cent of the viewers!

The return of story…and the rise of we boomers.

As Mike Myers (who, by the way, at forty-eight is also a boomer) would say:

YEAH, BABY!”

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Bill Allen January 23, 2012 at 10:11 am

Stephen:

Once again, your sense of a movement in the making is “right on”.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/23/stars-diss-hollywood-clooney-edgerton_n_1223315.html

I am getting a hunch that maybe this will further encourage a splintering off of filmmaking from Hollywood and SoCal into other areas of the country. What do you see that those of us who would like to get directly involved in this movement do, to promote the return to story and character driven film? Was wondering if you still planned to leverage the book and this site to move this effort along?

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Stephen Simon January 27, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Hi Bill….that’s the $64,000 question, isn’t it?….and, right now, I only have something like a a $1.98 answer….I’m not sure what the next step will or should be. My book has not garnered much attention and I was hoping it would help propel us forward. I’m working on a film project that is a truly quintessential Old Hollywood project that is based on what is supposed to be a classic myth about a very famous personality that actually turns out to be very, very true. Maybe that will help get us more exposure. So, for the time being, I’ll keep posting blogs, etc., and we’ll see what the tide brings in. I don’t give up very easily….which turns out to be both a blessing and a curse…;-)….thanks so much for your support.

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