Disappearing act

So I took my unsuspecting teenage son to see Woody Allen’s Scoop and here’s the funniest part:

The entire audience was geriatric. There wasn’t a person in the theater — in a decent crowd, by the way — who was under 50 and most won’t see 60 again. Not one hair follicle — those left — carried its natural color of youth. My son personally lowered the mean age in the place by 30 years.

I tell you, Woody Allen is the newspaper of film directors: His audience is dying off.

: The movie was cute if twitchy because Allen’s in it. Scarlet Johannson is not as sultry as she was in their last movie; she’s a reporter — a journalism student — and so she has to act awkward and twitchy herself, since reporters are like that, aren’t they? Yes, they are.

But she had her moments as the hardened reporter dame. And in the right light, her hair shone red and she looked like an imitation of none other than Ana Marie Cox. Separated at the casting couch:

  • http://www.billingsnews.com David Crisp

    I hope you are wrong about what the age of the audience indicates. Two movies stick out in my mind that attracted remarkably older audiences on the days that I saw them: “Schindler’s List” and “An Inconvenient Truth.” If the audience for movies like those is dying off, then we really are in trouble.

  • Mumblix Grumph

    Separated at the casting couch…

    Yes, and they are also equally qualified to be jounalists.

  • Eider

    Love Woody! Love Scarlet! And u should know that the 2 r alike! I’m confused in who’s who.. So Woody -i think- always had that kind of audience >4 well not 2 say Fans!

  • Eider

    Hey, so sorry 2 ask but i’m confused bout ur name.. Can u tell me again?.. And in which cost r u the editor? please.. Appreciate..

  • David

    Jarvis jumps to the wrong conclusions once again in his bid to back up one of his pet theories. Instead of comparing Woody to dying newspapers can it be possible that the reason why you saw so many geriatrics in the audience was because um *cough* there is NOTHING ELSE FOR THEM TO GO SEE?

    Ohh please Mr. Jarvis tell us what other movies that are out there right now in wide release that people over 50 would be interested in seeing? *chirp* *chirp* Nada…zip…zero.

    Hopefully by now the lightbulb going off in your head has led to the departure of the silly little clown that was dancing around gleefully in your mind because you’d found some evidence to back up your little ideas.

  • http://www.podcastdirectory.com/ Andrew

    Forrest Gump and the Big Chill jump to my mind. They hit a cord with baby boomers, but there were also huge negatives amongst other generations who simply couldn’t relate to the story, the times, or just didn’t care.

    Sad to hear that Woody Allen is heading into that light, but for a generation that knows more about Myspace.com than it does about Sleepers, Bannanas, etc. what do you expect?

  • http://bodmas.org/ Keith Burnett

    “My son personally lowered the median age in the place by 30 years”

    Your son has amazing powers. What was he using? I can imagine him lowering the mean age without breaking any laws.

    Just a maths teacher enjoying his right of reply (not often we get one)

  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    Teach: Touche.

  • http://assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com Assistant Village Idiot

    David, your reasoning explains why all the over 50′s were at that movie, but not why the under 50′s weren’t. Which is what I think the point was.

    I took my son, now 27, to the last American concert by Steeleye Span over a decade ago. Before the concert, he surveyed the audience and announced “Everyone here is you.” Second son is 22 and a film studies grad, BTW. Finds Allen “interesting,” but no longer of much use. If Woody can’t pull him in, he aint pullin’ no one from that generation.

  • jowfair

    Jeff, you can go ahead and fix the ‘median’ goof – it irked me and i hated high school math.

    As for Woody, the opening sequence to Manhattan was one of the most beautiful in American film, but I don’t think his horny nebbish act is very funny after the family problems and his existential schtick doesn’t stick after postmodernism. He isn’t intellectual or avante-garde anymore. He basically just makes genre homage films, and ones that aren’t as interesting to this “youngster” (25) as (eg) Tarantino’s or the Coen bros’. He’s punching a clock.

    I don’t think it matters, though – he’ll be gone before his audience is, and like the Coen bros. he pulls in a decent return on a low level of investment. Similarly, newspapers may be producing substandard work, ignoring (or actively betraying) their potential for improving civic discourse, and potentially doomed by online competition for their services, but at the moment, they’re still posting profit margins around 10-15%.

  • http://www.utopia-politics.com mhallex

    I’m a 20 year old Woody Allen fan and I can think of a few others in my age bracket who enjoy his movies and are far more willing to pay Manhattan ticket prices than I am. I went to a showing of Match Point a week or two after it came out and the audience was mostly late 20s and early 30s.

    Granted, that might not be representative of the average crowd as the showing was rather late.

    However, I did go on a date to see Sideways a year or so ago(or whenever it was in theatres) and we were the only people there who hadnt gotten letters from AARP.

    As for dying audiences reducing movie quality, I don’t know that modern schlock is all that different from most mainstream entertainment. If nothing else the smaller independent theatres here in New York that show supposedly high-quality, high-brow films have a fairly good age distribution. I’d venture to guess that the sort of audience that wants to see Weimar silent films(with a live soundtrack!) or a Godard marathon stays fairly constant.

  • jim collins

    “There wasn’t a person in the theater …who wasn’t under 50 ”
    So everyone in the theatre was under 50.
    So what is your point? The movie attacted a under fifty crowd or that you cant write coherently?

  • Shadow Merchant

    And in the right light, her hair shone red and she looked like an imitation of none other than Ana Marie Cox.

    Really? Did she have a fixation with anal sex too? No wonder they were separated at the casting couch.

    I’m proud to say I’ve never seen a Woody Allen flick. Of course, I grew up in the Mountain West where such things just didn’t exist.

  • http://www.getupbaby.net danup

    I went to see Scoop on opening night with a friend of mine. We’re both 19, and she and I were the only people in the theater.

    The movie was hilarious, my favorite Woody Allen movie chronologically in… ten years, at least.

  • http://michaelzimmer.org Michael Zimmer

    Is Keith correct? By adding one significantly lower aged person it is the median that would be affected most, not the mean. If there were 20 fifty-year-olds and 20 sixty-year-olds, both the mean and median is 55. But by adding just one sixteen-year-old, the mean only lowers to 54, while the median drops to 50.

  • Just a Visitor

    I noticed that the TV ads for this movie go out of their way to AVOID mentioning it’s a Wood Allen flick, something that, not so long ago, would have been waved like a banner.

    Shadow Merchant, you’re not the only Allen-free person. I don’t think I’ve missed a thing, from what I can tell (reading interviews and reviews). The worldview of a self-involved urban nebbish (who’s also dabbled in incestuous, borderline pedophilia) is not something I need in order to feel sophisticated.

  • http://www.coalitionoftheswilling.net tree hugging sister

    Proud to be fifty and free! Woody Allen’s such a disgusting schlub ~ there were always better things to spend movie money on (OTHER movies, gas for trips into the city, alchohol…) and better ways to waste the time spent watching a Woody Allen movie. (OTHER movies, drinking the alchohol, wandering the streets of NYC.)

  • ronbo

    Keith and Michael: It’s a rhetorical point. Focus, please.

    … casting couch …: Eww.

    Main point: It’s just an example of the long tail, no? Unless Woody is compensated as if he made tent-pole movies, which I doubt, what’s wrong with making films for an older niche audience? If Woody can succeed with that demo, maybe other filmmakers can, too.

  • http://www.getupbaby.net danup

    “I noticed that the TV ads for this movie go out of their way to AVOID mentioning it’s a Wood Allen flick, something that, not so long ago, would have been waved like a banner.”

    It’s actually been more severe in that regard than it is now; around 2003, when Anything Else was released, every single trailer pushed it as a straight romantic comedy and didn’t mention or show Woody Allen, despite his being billed third and directing. In Scoop, at least, he speaks in the trailer and is mentioned as the “director of Match Point(!)

  • Hugh Branson

    You,
    And your readers are clueless about what Woody Allen is doing in “Scoop.” Generations that have had their cultural bearings shaped from an experience twisted from the swamps of reality television, MTV, and the formula created movies that play to theater audiences, are rendered impotent when confronted with the quirky but powerful personality portrayals fashioned by Woody. The reaction by this group to rich humor, wit, and satire, is a generational embarrassment which proves a helplessness to absorb and assimilate the ageless tenants of comedy.
    We are not watching reality. In “Scoop,” we are watching a magnificent joke that is strung together with a plot, characters and beautiful photography. Wake up! Woody is putting you on. You probably missed the two midgets that briefly crossed the screen.

  • http://www.jessicaswell.com Natalie

    Thanks for checking in, Soon Yee…er….Hugh.

  • Rik

    interesting take on it..

    Though, I think scoop and matchpoint are simply the same story sold to two different audiences…