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Counter-Programming? Kids Demolish Grown-Ups Again at the Box Office

Counter-Programming? Kids Demolish Grown-Ups Again at the Box Office

You don’t need me to tell you about the generational shift with college kids and younger adults who stay away from cinemas now more than ever (thanks to videogames, Netflix, Internet, and the rest). But, are older adults (ages 35-70) also steering clear? That’s what I’m wondering after seeing this weekend’s box office tally for the State of Play opening. A well-reviewed (80% on Rotten Tomatoes) thriller starring Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, and Helen Mirren can’t muster more than $15 million on opening weekend? I would think this is an anomaly, except that it comes only a few weeks after the disappointing release of Duplicity, a relatively well-reviewed (66% on Rotten Tomatoes) comedy/thriller starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. Where are the grown-ups?

Duplicity has achieved a pitiful $39 million after five weeks in theaters, and will be lucky if it manages to hit $45 million by the end of its run. It’s certainly too soon to tell, but State of Play also has a slim chance of cracking $50 million. Was the older crowd taking its kids and grandkids to see 17 Again, Monsters Vs. Aliens, or Hannah Montana The Movie? Counter-programming against these films is supposed to work, especially when you “cast up” with big-name/high-paid Oscar winners. There are a few success stories skewing older, namely arthouse hits such as Sin Nombre, Sunshine Cleaning, and Valentino: The Last Emperor. But, in this case, these numbers can’t pick up the slack. All eyes on Angels & Demons next month. It’s a sequel starring Tom Hanks but, as we’ve seen recently, nothing is a sure thing.

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