Imax Entertainment Head Touts Baby Boomers as Hot New Target Audience

Annie Tritt

"The secret is baby boomers love going to the movies...more than millennials," top exec Greg Foster told an investor conference.

Baby boomers are more likely than millennials to watch films at the local cinema, revolutionizing the multiplex business, Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster told an investor conference Wednesday.

"The secret is baby boomers love going to the movies...more than millennials," Foster said during a session at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills that was webcast. The CEO said movies like Star Wars and The Avengers will always be virtually guaranteed to draw fanboy audiences.

"What really is going to make a difference are the movies like American Sniper, like Gravity, like The Martian or The Walk, movies that don't necessarily appeal on a core basis to a 15-year-old," Foster said. He added that baby boomers who grew up at the cinema "continue to go to the movies," rather than stream or rent from home or on their mobile phones.

He pointed to Clint Eastwood's upcoming heroic-pilot biopic Sully, starring Tom Hanks, as one film likely to do well with adult audiences. "It will have plenty of action, it's a Clint Eastwood movie, it has Americana," he explained.

Foster insisted Hollywood movies don't have to have superheroes, or screen in 3-D, to outperform at the multiplex. Instead, he told the investors conference that a blockbuster movie can happen at any time of the year, given that traditional seasonality was shrinking.

He pointed to American Sniper as a movie whose success was not anticipated. "We signed up 10 days before it came out and it was a gift from Warner Bros.," he recalled.

February, another traditional shoulder period, saw Fifty Shades of Grey do well for Imax as the giant screen exhibitor shows increasing flexibility in scheduling movies aimed at nontraditional audiences. For the rest of the year, Foster anticipates movies like Everest, The Walk and The Martian — titles that traditionally might have been summer movies — standing out at the multiplex.

"These are movies that have an opportunity to do some serious business, and that's something you haven't had, particularly in September, movies with box-office potential to them," he said. "These are older-skewing movies, but with some upside to them," Foster added.

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