“People over fifty make up 30% of the population but only 20% of the audience. The trouble is that grownups are less likely than kids to go on opening weekends (they wait for reviews and reports from friends), so, apart from the fall awards season, when most of the serious movies are released, they don’t pull their weight in terms of what gets made. As a result, the studios have conceived grownup moviegoing behavior in such a way that confines it to an enclosed circle.
New Yorker film critic David Denby
“When the adult audience does go to a low- or mid-budget movie released in winter or in spring — say, Crash or Inside Man — the studios consider the hit an anomaly, a ‘non-repeatable event.’ In the jargon of the trade, such movies are ‘execution dependent’ (they have to be good to succeed), rather than ‘audience dependent’ (the audience will show up regardless of the quality).
“Some execution-dependent movies, such as Inside Man, The Devil Wears Prada and Sideways, are hits by any standard. Some, like The Squid and the Whale and Capote, haven’t made big money but are still counted as successes in relation to their costs. Others, like Little Children, are financial failures, although that film, a stubborn and prickly plant, played through the fall to loyal audiences, and may pick up some awards attention and, with it, added box-office.
“Many more people go to bad movies than go to good ones, but the good small movies that do well, like Brokeback Mountain and Borat, are, in relation to cost, among the most successful movies ever made.” — from an Olympic-sized David Denby/New Yorker piece called “Big Pictures: Holywood Looks For a Future,” about where movies are going, how they’re evolving and what’s being lost as this happens — an article roughly similar to Pauline Kael’s 6.23.80 New Yorker piece called “Why Movies Are So Bad, or The Numbers.”