Shaken & Stirred - Influential Brand Profiling and Positioning

Emerging grey cinema market offers exciting new opportunities / Paul Parry, Filmology

In her Oscars® winner’s acceptance speech Cate Blanchett announced that Dame Judi Dench was filming in India. It drew attention to the news that a sequel to ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ is in production following its great success in 2012 when it took £82m at the box office worldwide.

The sequel, which will feature Richard Gere as a new resident of the hotel, is due to premiere in 2015.

This also provides a reminder of the growing number of successful films in the cinemas in recent years, with casts of well-known older actors that have clearly been created to appeal primarily to the ‘grey market’ audience. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was followed by other British films such as Quartet, A Song for Marion and Philomena while Last Vegas and Nebraska show that American film makers are also trying to entertain this age group.

It should not be a surprise as there are plenty of compelling facts that highlight why the grey market is important and attracting attention, not only from the film industry but from marketers everywhere.

Leisure plays a significant role in their lives

Over 35 percent of the UK population are aged over 50 – 22 million people – and they account for 50 percent of the expenditure and 80 percent of wealth. Leisure plays a significant role in their lives as recent research from the Intergenerational Foundation shows: people aged between 50 and 74 are spending twice as much as the under 30s on leisure activities – conspicuously cinema and theatre tickets. Most of the leading cinema chains offer discounted tickets for retirees or senior citizens, and many independents will have special screenings aimed at a more senior audience.

As the advent of this genre of lighter, often charming films is drawing this audience to the cinema more often, so it is creating a whole new range of marketing opportunities for brands that would like to build relationships with the same people.

While many brands are already targeting the older generation, now they can connect with them more easily through film promotions and other cinema and movie-linked marketing activity.

The marvellous element of a cinema audience is that, having chosen to be there, they are much more likely to be engaged with the on-screen entertainment and to keep their attention on it. In this era when channel hopping is so frequent, a film in the cinema can be a powerful and highly effective marketing medium.

If a film is a success, like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a sequel will be funded, and maybe a third or more. So if the cinemas and film makers are making more movies for the grey market, there are more ways to reach this lucrative market.


Paul Parry is Head of Marketing at Filmology, the UK’s leading cinema promotions agency.