After taking plenty of hits from critics and facing a dismal soft opening, Lovely Bones ramped up its ticket sales by playing to a new crowd: tween and teen girls. Will this spark an insurgence of thoughtful supernatural women-targeted films?
In a very clever move, Paramount turned around what many were predicting to be a so-so release for the critically dashed feature Lovely Bones. A new article in Variety explains that after doing market research, the studio discovered that spiritual film about a teenagers trials in the afterlife, was getting a better response from younger women and teenagers, than the previously expected older adult audience that had gobbled up the Oprah book it was based on.
And they were right, Variety is now reporting that in last weekends viewing audience, "a full 72% were female, while 40% were under the age of 20."
The first step was made by Peter Jackson, who decided it was in everyone's best interest not to compete with Avatar, and urged the studio to push back the movie's original December release date. But the next step was recognizing what crowd the studio should be marketing to. Younger women were reportedly responding much better to the film's spiritual themes and the father-daughter relationship.
(Not surprising as, I personally, first heard about the novel Lovely Bones from the same age group that informed me about the Twilight series.)
Paramount's next step was to attach LB to the New Moon screenings and place commercials on different networks, such as Lifetime.
Lovely Bones still has a ways to go to recover all of its expenses, but a healthy profit is not entirely unattainable at this point. While we applaud Paramount on a smart marketing move, we're much more interested in what this could mean. In a perfect world, movie makers could learn something from the teen appeal of Lovely Bones and cast aside the current plethora of vapid story lines of skinny girls pining for shirtless supernatural beasties. Granted we don't want to get rid of ALL the hot werewolves, but why not tone it down a tad and include real relationships? Say what you will about the movie as a whole, the father-daughter dynamic was infinitely more interesting than exploding werewolf boys in exploding jeans shorts.
This new discovery could also usher in the adaptation of additional fiction that straddles the mark of young adult and adult, but is written off as mere YA. The Thief of Always springs to mind as an interesting story that might not have a chance in a pitch meeting, due to its lack of shirtlessness, or hot Brits.
We all know YA series Fallen was destined for the silver screen, and currently is being made into a film, what with its brooding angel boys and passionate love triangles. But if Hollywood can bank on movies like Fallen because of the Twilight crowd, maybe they can also bank on that same crowd of eager readers checking out a movie adaptation of Scott Westerfeld'sUglies? Make it happen, Hollywood.
And finally, perhaps the new focus on this target audience will give other movie projects new life, or better yet, more funding. Suzanne Collins' dystopian teen gladiator book series The Hunger Games is being adapted by Lionsgate. Let's hope Lovely Bones' new audience has proved that you don't need to pander to teens in order to sell tickets, and Hunger Games will get the attention and money it needs, in order for a successful translation.
Perhaps this turnabout for Lovely Bones will usher in a new year featuring equal amounts of teen sex appeal and thoughtful film-making. If so, good on you, Twilighters.