Hollywood Needs To Get Over Its Crush On Teenage Boys

from the it's-not-you-it's-me dept

There are several theories as to why box office receipts have been down in recent years, all of which we’ve discussed many times. Lynda Obst, a producer at Paramount Pictures, has an interesting essay blaming the industry’s obsession with the teenage boy demographic. The problem isn’t that teenage boys have stopped going to the movies per se, but that studios end up pulling out all of the stops (huge budgets, huge marketing efforts) for this demographic, so naturally they’re setting themselves up for big falls. Teenage boys will still go to the theater if the film is good, but if it’s not, they have plenty of entertainment alternatives on a Saturday night. Furthermore, the internet and faster word of mouth can sink even the best-planned marketing campaigns, so there’s no hope in drawing viewers to a bad movie. The industry should take heart from what Obst argues, that there’s no one trend, technological or social, hurting the movie industry. Instead, the industry has bloodied itself by spending millions going after a single demographic. This is made worse by the winner-take-all aspect of the movie business. On any given weekend, a film that is even slightly better than the next best alternative will dominate ticket sales. If the industry diversifies their target demographic and learns that it can’t just pull people to a theater by marketing, they should be able to improve their returns.

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Comments on “Hollywood Needs To Get Over Its Crush On Teenage Boys”

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Apennismightier says:

Lynda Obst sounds like a lonely lesbian who wants to see more Brokeback Mountain remakes to satisfy her own interests. The fact is that the movie that are catering to teenage boys, are usually the best ones out there other than the 1, maybe 2 decent dramas that get released every year. The movies teenage boys go to see usually have action, big stars, and nudity if not sex appeal all over it. Middle aged men, and even teenage girls are also getting dragged to these movies by their boyfriends.

Regardless of who’s going to see what, Hollywood needs to get their heads out of their asses and start making movies worth seeing in the first place before they can start complaining about catering to one genre. Stop the bad remakes of old movies now befouled by quick fix writers and even dumber producers ready to cash in on the films our parents once loved and are now hated by us due to their lack of everything. Stop ripping off bad comic books as well. If there is a small fan base, it does not mean make a movie out of it. Ultraviolet is the newest of these atrocities.

All in all, Hollywood needs to clean some serious house, get some production talent that isn’t stuck in coast and can relate to the times and actually write, film, and market a movie successfully.

zossima says:

Re: Re:

Lynda Obst sounds like a lonely lesbian

My goodness, what a fresh and compelling sentiment. Yours is a hallmark of original thought and flawless reasoning.

Naturally, anyone whose entertainment diet does not consist solely of the genre “action/nudity” or who may not wish to be “dragged to the movies” by an insensitive and immature bloke must be a lonely lesbian; it’s the only logical conclusion.

Implicit in your argument is that a lonley lesbian could not possibly have taste in film. At least not the level of taste that, for instance, a pimply highscool male would.

Conclusion: Lynda Obst must be a lonely lesbian

An impeccable argument. If you are as I suspect, a male of our species, then who could possibly argue with Darwin’s conclusion that reason and logic are a man’s domain?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

LOL. There’s always one person who takes it way too seriously. You took a little too much offense to that. Are you yourself a lesbian? If so, then I really don’t care. If not, then why DO you care? If it bothers you so much, ignore the statement. Bottom line is that this woman thinks she has all the answers, so then why is she giving interviews to Techdirt and not doing something about it? Hollywood is a lot of talk. I know this, because I’m in the business. NOT some pimply teenage male as you put it. I’ve really had it with these middle aged stay at home mothers who have nothing better to do but blog all day and shop online.

I unfortunately am part of the problem and I realize what most of those problems are. I on the other hand am actually trying to do something about it. While I don’t want to reveal who I work for, you can take my word for it or not, there will be some major changes in writing for my department in a certain widely known Film and TV studio.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you’d bothered to actually read the post before spouting off, you’d realize that the woman in question isn’t one of the “middle aged stay at home mothers who have nothing better to do but blog all day and shop online” to whom you refer, but rather a producer for Paramount Pictures.

Anonymous Coward says:

ech forgot the comment!

of course its gonna go down with that kind of target audience, because then they are gonna take “precautions” of how much cursing, violence, and nudity is in the movie – either too much or not enough

if they are trying to target the younger teenage boys, they will be filtering out more – with a result of people thinking of it as an over-censored little kid movie

if they are aiming for the older teenage boys, of course simply putting in more hot chicks and rappers is going to make the movie suck and then people will realise that the only people that will go see it are wannabe rappers not even out of high school

jamessavik says:


Hollywood is falling on its gold-plated azz because they are producing *GARBAGE* and then throwing big parties to congratulate themselves on what a good job they’ve done.

You know who should have won the Oscar this year? No-f-ing-body. They all suck, suck, suck.

Hollywood has begun to believe their own propaganda. Now that they have taken out the violence, taken out the sex, taken out anything that might be considered politically incorrect, all that is left is a bunch of old women bitching at each other.

If we were into that, we could watch the BBC for free and skip out on paying for tickets to see Hollywood “nutbusters” that put people to sleep.

Here’s a clue Hollyrot: clone John Wayne, give him a .45 and tell him to clean house. That’s your ONE AND ONLY chance to miss out on being completely and utterly irrelevent.

Joe Smith says:

Ask the boys

If you are going to target a teenage boy demographic then you have to respect your audience and listen to what they say.

My teenage son has come back from the last three or four films he has seen complaining about incoherent plots.

Over the last few years I’ve been dragged along to a few movies and they really, really suck – even though my taste in movies is still extremely juvenile.

Anonymous Coward says:

I still remember the exact moment when I realized that movies today suck: I was sitting in a theater watching “Batman and Robin” and thinking to myself, “man this movie isn’t good at all” when my wife whispered “can we go home?” and I said “sure” so we got up and left. Since then I’ve cast a wary eye at all Hollywood “blockbusters” since they all cater to teenage boys. At least James Bond movies had thin plots to work their explosions and semi-naked babes around.

I used to write movie reviews for our company newsletter. Everybody asked me why I stopped doing it and I told them because I stopped going to the movies.

This isn’t anything new by any means though. Hollywood has catered to teenagers since the 70s when they realized they were buying the majority of movie tickets and represented virtually all of the repeat business. When “Jaws” came out about 90% of the audience was under 25 every time I saw it, which was probably three or four times. But “Jaws” was Shakespeare compared to today’s mind-numbing crap like that godawful “RV” that topped the box office last weekend.

beastie-c says:

uh, maybe im missing something...

I dont know, maybe i’m missing something here. i dont understand the view that hollywood is focusing it’s movies toward teenage boys. i agree there are some movies marketed toward that demographic, but they only really make up a small percent.

so some of the ‘action/thriller’ movies appeal to these kids, but i doubt that little teenage billy is going to say to his friends at school, “yo, we should check out “RV” or “Akeelah and the Bee” tonight, those movies look awesome!” or insert any of the other masses of movies out there that are supposedly meant for these adolescents. just because a large amount of movies suck, doesnt mean that they are geared toward teenage boys. these kids arent that stupid to buy into things that “suck”, same goes for video games as it does for movies.

the industry as a whole is waning. the quality of most movies across the board is sub par, but i find it hard to believe that hollywood is trying to market most of these movies toward the ‘teenage boy’ market. i just dont see it.

Slickriven says:

Totally agree with the last post. Being near the teenage male demographic (24 now) I have lived thru Hollywood’s crap for some time now. There have been some standouts, Matrix (1st one only), the Negotiator, Art of War, Last Bond film, and… … Ice Age (not the 2nd one). So in the past what 7 years there has been 5 films worth seeing and I’ve prolly seen like 150+ (not all in the theator but if not there on DVD). My girlfriend and I used to go to movies almost every other weekend, now it’s more like every other month. Oh I forgot the LOTR series and Narnia, both were pretty good.

But movies like Derailed, the Batman movies (after Keaton, before Bale), Mission Impossible series, the Pink Panther, Stick it, and the BAD remakes like Ocean’s 11, Poseiden, War of the Worlds… I mean come on, would someone please stop Tom Cruise from making any more films… was Vanilla Sky, Eyes Wide Shut, Minority Report, etc not bad enough.

I bring up 2 more movies: Transporter, alright action film, believeable story, good action, not overdone… then so dumba** makes a sequel… wow what an incredible piece of crap. Crash, great film, eye opener, go see it if you haven’t already. Anyhow I am done, too many crappy movies out there, way too many.

Anonymous Parent says:

As a parent, I see Hollywood adding in too much “young male teen/pre-teen” focus to what would otherwise be an excellent feature for the younger crowd. This goes for both live-action and animated works. They feel compelled to throw in plenty of the proverbial “potty humor” (bodily functions/noises, crude/disrespectful language, etc) to capture some of the older children, younger teens, and I end up with a movie that I do not want my children to emulate in real life. So I am not able to screen these movies properly, or we just avoid the theater completely. Usually the latter.

The problem may also be that there are now SO many people producing content that no one feels like they need to exercise any kind of restraint or impose any quality standards. That’s just my $0.02 (but if you wait until you are inside the theater lobby, it’ll cost you $1.27).

bbadd says:


one thing I have noticed is that it seems that no director in hollywood knows how to end a movie properly an more. Many movies that were good , or atleast decent, have been completely ruined by a half assed ending. Take War of the worlds for one example passable acting, nice special effects, and a decent story line but the ending felt like spielberg either ran out of time or money or realy just didnt care and that completely ruined that movie. thats just one example of how a terrible ending can ruin what otherwise was a good movie, the vast majority of movies seem to end with either a blantant “THERE WILL BE A SEQEUL” cliffhanger or the all to sappy everything is ok ending.

perhaps if hollywood would actually start to care about their works, from start to finish, rather than just the dollars they could produce movies that are worth paying the ticket price to see.

but thats just my opinion

Andrew says:

Re: endings

I agree with your point as a whole: that movies have developed a bad case of “we-gotta-leave-this-open-for-a-sequel (so-we-can-rake-in-more-dough)”-itis. But as for your War of the Worlds example, Spielberg didn’t just run out of time or money, he decided to be true to the actual story, albeit pretty much only right at the end.

But really, that’s how it ends in the book.

erinol0 says:

Re: endings

Haven’t seen the remake (the Spielberg version), but in general that movie’s ending (which is really the book’s ending) was slightly abrupt.

I do feel that overall, movies could be better, and wish that instead of taking old movies and remaking them they would take the ideas that made those movies good, like good plots, clever dialogue, and good acting instead of focusing on special effects.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: endings

Take War of the worlds for one example passable acting, nice special effects, and a decent story line but the ending felt like spielberg either ran out of time or money or realy just didnt care and that completely ruined that movie.

***** SPOILER *****

Blame HG Wells for that one, in the book the aliens died of a plague brought on by bacteria that they had built no immunity to, before they could conquer the planet. The book ended abruptly too.

bbadd says:

Re: endings

Yes the book did end abruptly however the end spielberg used felt very rushed and haphazrad. but that was just meant as one example of bad film making in rushing the ending. my point is that even in a decent film the directors find a way to screw it up and usually within the last 10 minutes.

Hollywood promotes stars who have looks but little talent, yes tom cruise is a very good example of those who relied on their looks to get that one good role then continue on because of their star status rather than actual ability. Hollywood also promotes cookie cutter plots and actors and directors who are more concerned with a paycheck that an art.

They wonder why people arent going out to the movies as much well the answer is easy. a flood of poorly witten scripts, poor acting, poor directing, and a rise in ticket price will equal less people going to the movies no matter what demographic they market to

Everyone's Got em', says:

Opinions are like A$$holes

and everone else’s stink’s If you dont like the movie, dont go see it. If you dont fork over the cash, Hollywood will eventually change their business profile to meet the consumers demands. If they don’t, the movie studio will go bankrupt and you won’t have to watch crappy movies anymore.

a critic who quit theaters AND tv says:

personally i dont give a FLYING FUCK if some guy gets a piece of ass in a movie, want a good movie, look at gladiator:

AMAZINGLY put together, great cast, great plot, great story(true for that matter, who had thought something based on nonfiction could be good…/sarcasm)

Amazing soundtrack, for anyone with a surround sound system(or if you dont get one and watch this movie and youll enver live w/o it), you need to be immeressed, hearing the battle around you, horses rearing up behind you, i actually got an adreneline rush just from the A/V put together.

not only that im a teenage boy(19, almost out of it), and i have to say that hollywood apparently thinks were immature retartds who liek bloodbaths and porn, not that that doesent add appeal, but when they do that they tend to forget the one simple detail that actually makes us come back: A GOD DAMN STORY, i saw the new trailer for dead or alive, and while i do like the game, i must say if anything the movie trailer just made me sware to some inanimate something i dont believe in god thatd until they made a worthwile film without “two thumbs up” as a marketing ploy, i wouldnt even step foot into my theater, which i might add hired people SPECIFICALLY to watch for people with cameras, and apparently its in their job description to try and say your girlfriend has a camera under her shirt, i waited for the guy after he got off and fucking socked him in his face, so its not only the movie that keep us away, hell if it was that id buy DVD’s and be a happy little camper, but when i go to the movies and have my girlfriend sexually harassed by a guy who is hired to infringe on our privacy almost as a job description, thats like a 6b yearold saying “mommy, can we go watch the backs of the really loud and rude guys who stand in front of everyone and wear a movie theater logo on their shirt to assert their authority”

do two things and ill go back to the media:

1.) use the right balance in movies, dont try to cater to a hormone infested singlegenre, try and make the movie more open think of a triangle never lean to far between sex, violence and story, usually the dot closer to story than in the middle would be better.

2.) follow googles”dont be evil” policy and remove the dickheads from the theaters, if theres one thing humans should have learned by now is that no matter what nothing is truly secure, and if someone wants a movie copied from a theater that bad, theyll get it no matter what you try to do, thjink of it as nondirect marketing, if a pirate grabs a movie and LOVE it hell damn well buy it or see it in theaters for a better expierence/or if hes stingy so he can delete it off his HD, for the rest of the crap so to speak, let em download it, not like wed like it any more if they didnt, it comes down to quality

Limerat says:

Hollywood Needs To Get Over Its Crush On Teenage B

I agree with Anonymous Parent and Anonymous Coward…

There have always been movies that are not worth the film they are filmed on and there have always been gems as well.

However, I agree the the quality has gone downhill over the years. and the focus has been on young people…But even when I was young,I found most movies to be not worth the admission price and just didn’t go to them.

Comedys are often not funny, action/adventure is mostly cars being blown up,etc.

And yeah, nothing is new under the sun.

Look at Sat. night Sci/Fi channel’s “movie”…it’s the same thing every weekend: creature of the week attacks humans…Who WRITES this stuff? Much less,who WATCHES it?

I do like science fiction, but that sort of stuff was around when I was a kid…And to think it’s still around boggles the mind.

There are so many high quality books that could be made into excellent movies, but I can count on one hand how often this actually happens..

We need more really compelling movies like LOTR,All The President’s Men, Good Night, And Good Luck,, etc. Rather than all the drivel Hollywood pumps out year after year.

Me and my friends might go see a movie once a year and might rent a movie once or twice a year if we can sift though the mindless dribble to something that actually is worth seeing.

But like TV, everything is dummied down so much we can’t sit through it.

Because one of our roomates works for Time Warner,we have all the movie channels free…We never watch them because they are not worth the bother.

Movie makers just recycle the same old stuff year in,year out…Like Animal Planet’s boring reptile/Steve Erwin obcession that went on for years.(Causing me to stop watching AP).

Hollywood makes a piece of junk like Snakes On A Plane and then blames the Internet cause it allows quickly for word to get out that it’s a piece of crap.

Well here’s a tip..If you know it’s crap,why bother to make it?

I can go on and on about this,but I’ll stop now.

txjump says:

it started with all the hype ..

who saw titanic? and who saw cast away? thats when i began to realize that movies were more hype than movie.

yes, titanic was a cinematography marvel (cough) but for all the hype, it just wasnt THAT great of a movie.

and then cast away .. am i the only one who feels like something was left out in that movie? once again … HYPE HYPE HYPE … lacking.

i think those two movies did me in on the theater going experience. every now and then i go … probably 2 or 3 times a year. must admit though, the first matrix, worth it.

SailorAlphaCentauri says:

Re: Re:

I’m glad somebody finally said something about Titanic. I didn’t like it and couldn’t understand the droves of couples from my university who went to see it religiously every weekend. But enough about that….

Hollywood movies seem to appear as if the industry has run out of ideas. I don’t go to see movies often (more as an example of the short-attention-span famed to my generation than the quality of films today) and I have a tendency to like bad movies (not Matrix-III-blockbuster-bad but low-budget-comedies-so-stupidly-bad-that-they’re-funny [i.e. Sprung, Josie and the Pussycats]), but movies today just aren’t compelling enough to get me to go out and see them. I’d rather watch older films (which surprised me when I sat through Sunset Boulevard last yearand liked it), indie films or just go to my Japanese Anime collection and call it a day.

By the way, I found it hilarious when one of my Bathroom Readers noted that Madonna’s remake of Swept Away made a little over $500,000.

Sha says:

Re: Just A Thought

“Just A Thought by Brian on May 2nd, 2006 @ 7:27am

Maybe if they did not spend millions upon millions of dollars to make a movie it would be easier to make a profit, regardless of who the target audience is.”

Not possible, you can’t make a movie worthwhile unless you fork over at LEAST a couple million. The cost of film alone will bump you up there, paying the cast, props, artists, etc. just not possible. :o)

Tashi says:

I’m in my 30s and my wife and I have this conversation every couple of weeks.

“Hey wanna go see a movie?”


“What do you wanna see?”


“Let’s just stay home and play a game instead.”

Not only the movies suck (which really doesn’t stop me from going. I’m a movie fan, sucky films and all) but the movie going experience stops me from going. Cell phones, over talkative audience, expensive junkfood… that bright ass light from the lounge above us from someone opening the door through the whole movie…. now that does suck. So we save the money and opt to stay home for out entertainment.

Indie says:

Holywood movies just plain suck for the most part. I don’t care who they are targeted at. I am a fan of indie films. I am not saying all indie films are good because they aren’t, but atleast crappy indie films didnt cost millions to make like crappy hollywood flicks. There are people who actualy like alot of these crappy movies though. Perhaps it is because they haven’t seen anything good in too long. There is no way you will see me spending that much to see a movie that isnt worth the time of day.

Sha says:

watch IFC and Sundance if you want quality movies from people with talent. I don’t bother going to the movies anymore, but I will be there opening weekend for Da Vinci Code. I have no expectations from Hollywood to produce anything of substance (especially after Spielberg and Cruise hopped into bed together-figuratively). I mean look at their lives. You have expectations from people and an industry that lives in la-la land. I can see how the movies are geared toward teenage boys for the most part. With all these scary movies and action adventure, (oh and btw, transporter was an awesome flick for the mere fact that hottie with the accent kept me on the edge of my seat with the muscles and shirt ripping and oh my… :o) But not all movies are directed toward the teenage boy population, pretty much everything they put out now lacks substance, and the reason is the people writing, acting, directing, all of them have no grasp on reality or anything of substance in their own lives. You can only breed what you know.

Sam says:

Re: ...see what?

Sha: ” I will be there opening weekend for Da Vinci Code”

Everything you said comes in contrary with your decision to go to see the “Davinci Code”!

Because you sound rather open minded, I’d advise you to get better informed about the whole subject, read about the guy who wrote this original crap and falsified historical facts on a sensitive subject, just to gain everyone’s attention and become instantly rich. He followed the easy formula: Take a sensitive subject that has influenced millions, twist the historical facts, add some fiction, pretend that you did a multiyear (!) research and market it as the new apocalypse! You have the theme, the famous characters, the details, everything. It?s easy.

I’m NOT a religious person in any way, but I respect other people’s beliefs and I would never distort historical facts or abuse religions to make money. It requires an unethical and cheap personality lacking any values, so I’d consider myself an idiot to go and see such a fake thing made from such a guy with such motives. For those who think that this is art, I’d say that they don’t have a clue what art is.

As about Tom Hanks, now I see his real values… and he doesn’t have even an excuse… he’s already rich!

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