Are Women the Key to Box Office Success?

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Thu, 10/08/2015 - 12:33 -- Nick Dager

Will Palmer, CEO and co-founder of Movio.Even with such chart-topping titles as Jurassic World and The Avengers: Age of Ultron, 2015’s unadjusted cumulative box office is up only six percent over 2014 and only one percent over 2013. In a recent presentation, a top Movio executive suggested that the film industry is “leaving money on the table” by not paying more attention to underserved sectors of the movie going audience, namely women.

Central to Movio’s assertion is the fact that big-budget tent pole films are not sufficient for driving an increase in overall movie going.  The audience for blockbusters is already well served throughout the year, so spreading that audience over a larger slate of big budget films may not be a sustainable strategy to increase annual box office.  Movio chief executive and co-founder Will Palmer revealed the results of a research campaign initiated exclusively for The Grill during his presentation there earlier this week.

In What Women Want: Unlocking Box Office Revenue, Palmer presented compelling data to support Movio’s premise that female moviegoers may hold the key to significantly increasing the annual box office haul, which suggests that some of the studios’ marketing firepower could be redirected to non-tent pole films to increase box office heft.

Movio’s data scientists profiled the audience that avoids blockbuster films, partitioning their sample of more than 1 million typical North American moviegoers by their tent pole preferences, concentrating on the group whose preference for these films was significantly less than average.  The purpose of this research was to identify areas where there were opportunities to expand movie going numbers by attending to populations that are underserved by content or marketing.  The analysis revealed two groups that formed the core of the research:

Millennial women, who preferred comedies and frequented the movies during the evening almost once a month;

Female baby-boomers who primarily like dramas and tend to visit the cinema during the day on a monthly basis as well.

According to Palmer, “It’s well known that women are responsible for making many household financial decisions and across the cinema chains that participate in Movio Media, 60 percent of loyalty cardholders are women.  In addition, they are primarily responsible for introducing children to the cinemas, as women make up 57 percent of the animated film audience.”

Further analysis of the financial information that Movio has collected combined with the exclusive insights of the research, shows that of the 203 movies for which Movio could obtain financial data, 45 had an audience that was 60 percent men, while 40 had an audience that was greater than 60 percent women.  Although the male-dominated films had an average worldwide gross twice as big as the female-dominated films, the average gross to budget ratio of female-dominated films is greater: 5.1 vs. 2.3.  This trend is true even when Movio considered blockbusters, with the male-focused superhero films averaging a global gross to budget ratio of 2.9, while the female-focused action films (centered on the Hunger Games franchise) returned an average gross to budget ratio of 4.4.

Palmer added, “This suggests that a shift in focus towards producing and marketing films to women could pay off not only in incremental box office, but in blockbuster returns as well.”

The Grill