Hollywood to Target Older Audience with Large Format Films

Large-screen format theaters have typically played action-adventure blockbusters aimed at the younger crowd. This fall, however, Hollywood plans to release more adult-oriented stories on the bigger screens, and often in 3D. Proof of that trend can be found in the films chosen to open recent festivals, including the 3D “Everest” at the Venice Film Festival and Robert Zemeckis’ 3D “The Walk” at the New York Film Festival. Exhibitors and their partners are also wooing adults to watch 3D films, which peaked in 2013 with “Gravity.”

Studios are pushing adult-themed movies into large-format theaters, says The New York Times, because “the enhanced screens promise expanded revenue for the companies involved.” In the quarter ending June 30, average movie ticket prices rose 6 percent to $8.61, notes NYT, “partly because of premium-ticket buying for ‘Jurassic World.'”

The number of large format, 3D-capable screens has grown at the same time that the youth demographic appears to have less interest in seeing those films. RealD increased its number of 3D screens 6 percent since last year, with 27,000 3D screens. Cinemark, Regal and AMC theaters enjoyed a bigger bump — 34 percent — to 430 large-format screens. IMAX’s global reach now has reached 1,000 screens.

Fox_3D_The_Martian

Getting adult audiences to pay higher prices for large-format and 3D movies is crucial, say studio executives. “The word I would use is ‘necessary,’” says Sony Pictures Entertainment chair Tom Rothman.

In addition to large-format and 3D, studios are also experimenting with high frame rate and high dynamic range to produce more immersive images and differentiate their content. The technologies have already been used on a handful of films, including “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “Life of Pi.”

Lack of standards for emerging tech is not stopping Hollywood studios from rolling out an entire season of large-format and/or 3D movies, and Fox decided that all its movies going forward will be made with HDR. “There is a kind of show business in the fall that we’ve never had before,” says IMAX chief executive Greg Foster.

Upcoming big screen films include Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” (pictured above), Ron Howard’s “In the Heart of the Sea,” and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “The Revenant.”

“Studios will surround their big-scale festival and awards bets with another tier of 3D or giant-screen films that appeal to adults but are rooted in action, horror or family genres,” predicts NYT, noting Sony Pictures/MGM’s “Spectre,” Warner Bros.’ “Pan,” Universal’s “Crimson Peak,” and Warner/Alcon Entertainment’s “Point Break.”