There’s no business…

Posted by on Mar 6, 2009 in general | 14 comments


The other day, a screenwriter friend of mine told me that her script had been rejected. The primary reason: Hollywood does not love middle-aged women; they’re a tough sell. In fact, the general belief among the studio mogols is that women moviegoers don’t make movies successful.

Okay, I’m not entirely surprised because our society doesn’t particularly like or admire or respect middle-aged women, instead, espousing the benefits of youth in just about every area of commerce. But let me clue the studios and marketers to something:

  • There are currently 38 million women in this country who are between the ages of 40 and 58
  • Women account for about 83% of all consumer buys
  • About 2.5M of these women have combined assets of $4.2B

Have I got your attention yet?

A recent article in the New York Times cites data that suggest that Americans are starting to return to the movie theatre in droves. If this is true, then the paradigm defining the typical moviegoer, i.e. teenage boys, is about to change. And will more than likely include middle-aged women.

Moreover, according to an article in Entrepreneur Online, women between the ages of 35 and 55 “make the majority of purchasing decisions in married households, and more than a quarter of U.S. households are single women making buying decisions without any men involved at all.  Middle-aged women are looking for any type of service that will simplify their lives, says, author of Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach and Increase Your Share of the World’s Largest Market.”

So, let’s the do the math:

Women, including middle-aged women, have the buying power in the United States + Americans, including women are returning to the movie theatres in droves = middle-aged women are a primary audience and deserve films (and services) that address their needs.

I don’t harbor any illusions that Hollywood or society for that matter, are going to change their ways. Middle-aged women are accustomed to being discarded for their younger counterparts. But what I do say is that it’s time to leverage the power of the pocketbook (even though it might be a wee bit lighter these days) and make sure that marketers, including Hollywood, are listening.

What do you think?

(Special thanks to my friend Yvonne DiVita, blogger extraordinaire over at, who pointed me to some of these statistics. If you’ve not visited the site, please show her and her fellow bloggers some love.)


  1. 3-6-2009

    There is one tv network that does very well with middle aged women, and ratings are at the highest level in years – Bravo.

    Now another cable channel (that I can’t name) is trying very hard to follow that model.

    Movies are a whole different story. I thought “Sex in the City” would have helped a bit…

    On the other hand, middle aged actresses have it the worst. There’s only a handful that seem to be in every movie (Diane Keaton for example!)

    • 3-7-2009

      Mary – you make an interesting point – only 1 network caters to women our age. speaks volumes, I think.

  2. 3-6-2009

    Liz, thanks for the shout-out. Your post is so timely – but the truth is – this is an on-going, perpetual issue, in some ways. The answer lies within the women’s community. We are a vast resource and a huge market. We not only command more dollars in spending than any other market (I’m definitely talking boomers and seniors, of which I am a member), we are knowledgeable, we are committed and loyal, and we support each other.

    If you market to one of us, you market to thousands of us. If you ignore one of us, you ignore thousands of us.

    Why then are women not out there demanding the attention and the respect? Why are we sitting by allowing the world at large to subvert us?

    Because we don’t need the recognition from THEM. We get it from each other.

    Kudos to you. Thank you for the mention of my little blog on marketing to REAL women online. You rock!

    • 3-7-2009

      Yvonne; I totally agree with you – the solution lies in community. and as a vast resource, we have to start make our voices heard. Let’s get off our asses and start a movement, as Amy writes.

  3. 3-6-2009

    Here’s what I’ve done for years – and I call all women (and men) to do the same. Hollywood understands dollars – especially first weekend dollars. If you see a movie that has or appeals to women – GO THE FIRST WEEKEND! I do this as well in any situation that women are the leads, the director and/or writer. If we do this in mass – Hollywood will listen, they hear through their wallets.
    Beth 🙂

    • 3-7-2009

      Great idea Beth and very much in line with what other readers have written. Our power lies in our wallets. Call it women on first!

  4. 3-6-2009

    I say put your money where your heart is. What I mean is, most of the stuff coming out of Hollywood is a vapid pile of crap,(don’t even get me started on popular music,fashion,or nutrition!) Why would an intelligent woman want to be associated with that? Take your talents to the folks who ALREADY RESPECT YOU. Let’s have some quality criteria here. If and when the commercial movie industry catches on, they’ll just have to pay up! In the mean time, we create the opportunities we need. This is something that women are really great at!

    • 3-7-2009

      I agree with you. But unfortunately, the larger dollars are with the industry. If we want to truly engage and make a difference, we need to start at the heart of the problem and let the movement spread outwards.

  5. 3-6-2009

    nothing like some hard statistics to prove a point. great post. just because ‘it has always been done that way’ is not a good enough excuse to keep doing it.

    i love Beth’s idea about going the first weekend to boost the numbers. How about a movement? a shout out for women tested women approved films.

    ahh, the movement generation mobilizes. ; )

  6. 3-6-2009

    Women, for years, seemed to fight a patriarchal society/biz world by trying to do things in a man’s way – but then more recently realized life was better if they just opted out of the way things have always been and took a more entrepreneurial approach to their jobs/careers. I think something similar will happen here, Liz. It may take a while, but women will speak with their movie-ticket-buying dollar and a few years from now, we’ll hear a few big-name film producer types say “they never saw it coming, but women are ruling the entertainment realm.” The pattern is that women shrug their shoulders, proceed in their own deliberate ways and end up with what they wanted. Love it. (Glad I saw your mention of this post on Twitter!)

    • 3-7-2009

      Your work is an inspiration and I encourage others to visit your site. Like Yvonne, you are at the forefront of communications to women and the power of entrepreneurialship. I am impatient so waiting, while reasonable, seems like a painful prospect. Surely, there are things we can do now to encourage change.

  7. 3-7-2009

    Have a nice weekend!

  8. 4-27-2009

    I love this post. Yes, I’ve wondered why more women in this age bracket (40+) forgo going to the theaters. I wonder if part of it is just because we’ve given up. I know I now usually wait for movies to come out on DVD.
    But heck, after reading your post, I am even more motivated to attend the first showing of a film that features middle aged women. Even if I have to go alone!

    • 4-28-2009

      Thanks Lisa. I think that you hit it on the head: there’s power in numbers. Now if we can just convince the powers that be that we are still relevant despite our age.


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