More Parts for Over 40 Actors --- Big Deal

helen mirrenThere have been quite a few articles of late about the increasing number of roles for age 40+ actors, particularly women. They mention Helen Mirren, of course, Sally Fields, Kyra Sedgwick, Anne Margaret, Julie Christie, Diane Lane, Sandra Bullock, Holly Hunter, Glenn Close, Mary-Louise Parker, Minnie Driver, Diane Keaton, and Ellen Barkin, to name just a few.

With well over one third of U.S. population over the age of 50, you would think there would be plenty of roles for men and women over 40, or 50 for that matter. If the audience is there, shouldn’t it follow that the product would be there for them? I thought baby boomers had some economic clout by virtue of their 78 million sized cohort. Ask entertainment experts, however, and they will tell you that the marketplace skews to 18 - 25 because they buy the tickets for movies and they watch most of the the television shows. kevin costnerThat simple fact explains why there can be a Die Hard 6 movie and why reality shows where people eat worms can be so popular.

So it’s great that a lot of over 40 actors are finding work, but isn’t it about time? How many movies and television shows can you watch where young actors just don’t have the chops to carry the roles they’re in? Johnny Depp was pretty good as Edward Scissorhands, but it’s only now that he’s over 40 that he can pull off a role like Captain Jack Sparrow. Even an actor like Kevin Costner is now doing much more interesting work as evidenced by his bizarre serial killer role in Mr. Brooks.

james caanMaybe the most positive sign that things are changing was the recent announcement that James Caan is launching Boomer Films to try to break the grip of blockbusters such as Spiderman and Fast and Furious. Caan wants to produce movies with powerful stories instead of car chases. He says that he came to this conclusion when he learned that experienced writers in their fifties and sixties have to write under phony names tokeep working. Caan was quoted as saying that, “The films I want to make are economically viable because the baby-boomers are the fastest growing audience."

Some film distribution statistics bear out the fact that the number of people age 45 and over going to see movies has risen substantially, at the same time that some of the expected blockbusters have underperformed. Will the distribution machine crush the upstart boomer moviemakers? Stay tuned, and keep buying tickets to see movies made by, and starring people your own age!

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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