Box Office Debacle: Hollywood's Battle for Older Moviegoers' "The Last Duel"

Box Office Debacle: Hollywood's Battle for Older Moviegoers' "The Last Duel" ...

Only two-thirds of moviegoers who came to see Ridley Scotts A-list The Last Duel on opening weekend were 17 or younger, compared to just 17 percent of people who were between the ages of 18 and 24. More than 80% of ticket purchasers were under 25 years old.

The historical drama, set in Medieval France, slipped to $4.8 million domestically, behind already muted hopes and a career worst debut for the well-respected Scott. The movies ill fate underscores Hollywood's battle to get back people 35 and older, who, before the epidemic, were among the most frequent moviegoers and would fuel a film like The Last Duel. No longer.

Ridleys latest film would have faced challenges in normal times, despite major star power Matt Damon, Adam Driver, Jodie Comer, and Ben Affleck - and generally favorable reviews. 20th Century Studios and Disney had hoped for $8 million to $10 million heading into the opening weekend.

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To date, the box office recovery in the United States has been driven by younger consumers flocking to see a relatively steady diet of superhero movies and horror movies, disproving the assumption that this demo should care less about the theatrical experience. Despite a dual release on Peacock, Halloween Kills, which opened opposite The Last Duel, raked in $50.4 million. As a comparison, 12 percent of Halloweens audience was under 13, while 35 percent were aged 17 to 24.

The 25-plus crowd and the 35- plus crowd are in need of a comeback as dozens of big-budget films will be released this fall and winter, traditionally regarded as an adult-skewing period, and they are also in demand. No Time to Die, which MGM and EON released over the Oct. 8-10 weekend after a series of delays due to the epidemic (Bond films have always been older).

No Time to Die has grossed a solid $56 million domestically. While many in Hollywood had hoped it would do more, it did succeed in attracting older demos, with 25 percent of ticket buyers saying it was the first time theyd been back to the cinema since the epidemic began.

No Time to Die has stayed within its current release date, according to box office pundits. Bond took one for the team, says Ethan Titleman, senior vice president of entertainment research film NRG. We need more films to take a chance, said the filmmaker. Top Gun: Maverick is a title that has once again decided to postpone its release because of the ongoing epidemic. Titleman and others wont mention other tentpole by name, but one title which recently decided not to publish due to the epidemic has been Topgun: Macerick.

No Time to Die's second release, which ended with a solid $24.3 million, compared to 69.1 million for ten days on the market, fell an estimated 57 percent to $24.4 million. The MGM and EON film continues to draw huge audiences in the United States, just as Bond films do. It made another $54 million this weekend for a foreign total of $348.3 million and $447.4 millions worldwide (and thats not even counting China, which it will visit on Oct. 29).

Someone had to go first. We stood up and the film is doing well. Erik Lomis, distribution director at United Artists Releasing, which is handling No Time to Die in North America for MGM and EON, says that once people start coming back, they will continue to come back, he adds.

Or, as one studio executive puts it, the business cant rely on Marvel characters alone.

Whether No Time to Die, which took $250 million-$300 million to produce before marketing, will make it to the end of its life-year if it succeeds remains to be seen. No Time to Die is a little older than Spectre and Skyfall in North America. Thats due in part to Sony upcoming superhero sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage.

The next big test for older demos is Denis Villeneuves highly acclaimed sci-fi tentpole Dune, which Warner Bros. and Legendary will release on Oct. 22 in the United States. There are a few caveats, such as the fact that Dune will be released simultaneously on HBO Max. Zendaya is also a younger lead in the film, Timothee Chalamet (the film also has Zendrya as he leads).

Dune has already generated $129 million in ticket sales over the globe.

If a film cant get all quadrants, its like putting up hay on stools, says Comscore s Paul Dergarabedian.

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