Arthouse cinema goes viral

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The Future. Speciality movies like The Iron Claw, Poor Things, The Zone of Interest, and The Holdovers — films that typically skew older — are hits with the under-35 crowd. 2024 could see several breakout arthouse hits, prompting studios to diversify their slates to capture the zeitgeist.

Audience discovery
Many of this season’s awards movies are seeing over 60% of their ticket sales come from millennials and Gen Zers — the biggest turnout since the early 2000s, says Focus Features’ President of Distribution, Lisa Bunnell.

How’d this happen?

  • COVID changed moviegoing behavior, with audience members aged 35 to 40 and older not going to the theaters as much.
  • Meanwhile, young people have fueled a cinema revival, crowning theaters like the Alamo Drafthouse as social hubs, while loyalty programs at chains make moviegoing more affordable.
  • People under 35 chose A24 as their brand of cool, while older millennials preferred Marvel and DC… and that tent has expanded to include anything giving that unique but abstract A24 vibe.
  • Many movies have gone viral on TikTok due to their younger stars, boundary-pushing subject matter and style, and even audience reaction videos — a phenomenon that propped up wider-release films, too.

When comparing the box office grosses of the awards films from 2022 to those from last year, 2023 may have been a paradigm shift for mainstream cinema.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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