LOS ANGELES -- Movie audiences are getting older.
The Motion Picture Association of America reports that in 1989, 23 percent of filmgoers were 40 and older, compared to only 15 percent in 1985. Teen-agers, 22 percent of 1985 audiences, are down to 19 percent. People in between -- ages 20-39 -- still account for the lion's share, 58 percent, but that represented a slight decline from the 63 percent registered four years earlier.
The statistics were among several reported by the Newspaper Advertising Bureau at the recent National Association of Theater Owners/ShoWest meeting in Las Vegas. While the statistics were aimed at convincing theaters to advertise in newspapers as opposed to television, they revealed some patterns about filmgoing habits of different age groups.
For example, one study confirmed long-held suspicions that only young people are willing to brave long lines to see films soon after their opening.
The Lieberman Research survey, conducted in Los Angeles, found that nearly half of those who said they usually see movies within a week of their opening were in the 12-17 and 18-24 age groups.
Surprisingly, however, 18 percent of the respondents ages 50 or older also reported seeing films the first week, compared to 14 percent in the 35-49 age group and 9 percent of those ages 25-34.
In all, only 17 percent of those surveyed reported going to films the week after they opened. Another 21 percent waited until the third week, and the largest group -- 39 percent -- said they went in the third or fourth week of release. The remaining 23 percent held off longer.
This would be good news for newspapers, since TV ad campaigns are usually conducted right before a film opens. Given the youth of first-week filmgoers, we now know who those campaigns are aimed at.
Kevin Costner and his fellow "Dances With Wolves" producer, Jim Wilson, collect yet another laurel this week, this one from the Producers Guild of America.
Costner and Wilson have been named recipients of the Darryl F. Zanuck Theatrical Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award, one of several Producers Guild Golden Laurel Awards to be presented by Ted Turner tomorrow in Beverly Hills.