Hollywood Horror -- The Decline of Young Moviegoers

Jim Liebelt

Only a few years ago, a new horror movie was considered as close to a sure thing as anything Hollywood produced.

But this summer and fall, title after title has disappointed, capped by a weak $8.5 million opening for Universal's early Halloween entry The Thing, a prequel to John Carpenter's 1982 horror sci-fi pic of the same name. The likely culprit: The flight of younger moviegoers from the multiplex.

Heading into the Oct. 14-16 weekend, The Thing was tracking to gross $11 million to $13 million, but the audience needed to achieve those numbers never materialized. Nearly 65 percent of those buying tickets to the movie were over the age of 25, whereas it used to be that moviegoers under 25 powered the genre.

Other recent titles that have underperformed include Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, which has only grossed $23.9 million domestic, Shark Night 3D ($18.7 million), Dream House ($18.4 million) Fright Night ($18. 1 million) and Apollo 18 ($17.5 million).

"I don't know what's happening. The young people just aren't there," says Universal president of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco. Chris Aronson, senior vp domestic distribution at 20th Century Fox, was one of the first to notice the decline of younger moviegoers, a trend that began during Christmas 2010 and continues to worsen. "These are the kids who are the stable for this kind of fare," he says.

Source: Hollywood Reporter