Rise of the silver-haired screen: Older people take largest share of cinema audiences

Likes of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel helped to drive the over-45s to the cinema

Arts Correspondent

In the opening scenes of the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a pushy estate agent reveals his goal of attracting the lucrative “grey pound” of his ageing clients.

He succeeds only in alienating  potential housebuyers, but the film certainly brought a cascade of those grey pounds into cinemas last year. It also helped to make the oldest  demographic group of film-goers the largest section of the audience.

Along with the likes of Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel helped to drive the over-45s – the eldest of the four age groups in statistics compiled by the British Film Institute (BFI) – to 36 per cent of the UK’s total cinema audience in 2012, making  it the biggest section of the market for the first time.

The BFI revealed the shift in audiences in its Statistical Yearbook, saying more films were being made for and marketed to older people. Previously, the biggest year for the over-45 age group was its 30 per cent share of the audience in 2008, thanks in part to the popularity of the Abba musical Mamma Mia! The last set of figures, for 2011, showed a figure of 28 per cent.

Sean Perkins, the BFI’s head of research and statistics, said: “That audience seems to be reconnecting with the cinema. They have more disposable income and time. Some are coming with grandchildren, which is [showing] in the statistics. And obviously there is the underlying UK trend in the population.” Film companies have increasingly been aiming releases at older audiences, including such recent hits as The King’s Speech, Quartet, A Song For Marion, A Late Quartet and The Iron Lady, starring Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher, below.

Tim Cagney, the deputy chief executive of the BFI, said: “The studios are very aware of who their audiences are. They see the demographic is changing and it will see a response in the movies that are released.”

Cinema operators also see the over-60s as a lucrative market. The Picturehouse chain runs a Silver Screen Club, which offers discounted tickets and free tea and coffee  at matinée screenings. A spokesman said it had long targeted older  viewers, adding: “They are a great audience and also they are a daytime audience. Finding that weekday daytime viewer is the holy grail for cinemas. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel shows there is a substantial box-office gain for films aimed at older people. They also tend to be less expensive than blockbusters.”

Picturehouse said many older customers had begun frequenting its cinemas more often after they saw its live broadcasts of stage plays by the National Theatre and productions at the New York Metropolitan Opera.

“A lot of older audiences who had become disillusioned with the cinema have rediscovered their love for it,” the spokesman added.

However, while the size of older audiences is growing, there has been a sharp fall in numbers of younger people going to the movies, despite the release last year of such blockbusters as The Dark Knight Rises and Marvel Avengers Assemble.

The BFI said cinema-goers aged 15 to 24 made up only 25 per cent of the audience in 2012, compared with a 31 per cent share in 2011. The institute said it needed more data to “better understand shifting patterns of film consumption”.

The BFI’s yearbook revealed that UK films took a total of $5.3bn (£3.5bn)  in 2012 – a 15 per cent share of the global market and the highest on record. Among the big international successes were the James Bond adventure Skyfall, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and The Woman In Black.

At home, it also proved to be a record-breaking year, with cinemas taking £1.1bn despite stiff competition from the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Diamond Jubilee  celebrations and the Euro 2012 football championship.

Old favourites: Films popular with people over 55

Film: Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Starring: Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked

Plot: A consultant attempts to realise a sheikh’s dream of bringing fly-fishing to the desert

Over-55 age group share of audience: 58 per cent

Film: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Starring: Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson

Plot: Seven British retirees travel to India to settle in what they believe is a luxury hotel, but find the reality is different

Over-55 age group share of audience: 53 per cent

Film: Anna Karenina

Starring: Keira Knightley, Jude Law

Plot: A Tom Stoppard adaptation of the Leo Tolstoy novel about a married Russian aristocrat’s tragic love affair

Over-55 age group share of audience: 52 per cent

Arts and Entertainment
Ellie Levenson’s The Election book demystifies politics for children
bookNew children's book primes the next generation for politics
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams' “Happy” was the most searched-for song lyric of 2014
musicThe power of song never greater, according to our internet searches
Arts and Entertainment
Roffey says: 'All of us carry shame and taboo around about our sexuality. But I was determined not to let shame stop me writing my memoir.'
books
Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Transformers: Age of Extinction was the most searched for movie in the UK in 2014

film
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Ronson has had two UK number two singles but never a number one...yet

music
Arts and Entertainment
Clara Amfo will take over from Jameela Jamil on 25 January

radio
Arts and Entertainment
This is New England: Ken Cheeseman, Ann Dowd, Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins in Olive Kitteridge

The most magnificently miserable show on television in a long timeTV
Arts and Entertainment
Andrea Faustini looks triumphant after hearing he has not made it through to Sunday's live final

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

    The West needs more than a White Knight

    Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
    Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

    'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

    Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

    Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
    The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

    The stories that defined 2014

    From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
    Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

    Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

    Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
    Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

    Finally, a diet that works

    Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
    Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

    Say it with... lyrics

    The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
    Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

    The joys of 'thinkering'

    Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
    Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

    Monique Roffey interview

    The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

    Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones
    DJ Taylor: Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    Good taste? It's all a matter of timing...

    It has been hard to form generally accepted cultural standards since the middle of the 19th century – and the disintegration is only going to accelerate, says DJ Taylor
    Olivia Jacobs & Ben Caplan: 'Ben thought the play was called 'Christian Love'. It was 'Christie in Love' - about a necrophiliac serial killer'

    How we met

    Olivia Jacobs and Ben Caplan
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's breakfasts will revitalise you in time for the New Year

    Bill Granger's healthy breakfasts

    Our chef's healthy recipes are perfect if you've overindulged during the festive season
    Transfer guide: From Arsenal to West Ham - what does your club need in the January transfer window?

    Who does your club need in the transfer window?

    Most Premier League sides are after a striker, but here's a full run down of the ins and outs that could happen over the next month
    The Last Word: From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    From aliens at FA to yak’s milk in the Tour, here’s to 2015