Home / Tech / 'Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood' is getting a box-office boost from older audiences that conventional Hollywood wisdom writes off

'Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood' is getting a box-office boost from older audiences that conventional Hollywood wisdom writes off

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Margot Robbie Sony

  • According to data given exclusively to Business Insider by marketing analytics company Movio, 15.4% of the audience going to see “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is 66 and older. (The average is 10.6% across all titles.)
  • It’s a perfect example of how much Quentin Tarantino’s movie is a unicorn in today’s movie business: a title that’s not a sequel, or from a franchise, taking in major box-office coin and doing it with a demographic the industry believes never goes to the movies.
  • The Movio data also shows that, as the movie continues to stay in theaters, more women are seeing it.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.


In today’s movie-theater business, the general consensus is you only have the first two weekends to grab audiences for a specific title before they move onto another new release (or even worse, something new on streaming). It’s also widely thought that people over 30 never go to new releases.

But Sony proved with its release of Quentin Tarantino’s ninth movie, “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” that none of that is true — if you release the right movie.

Since opening on July 26, “Once Upon a Time” has defied all 2019 moviegoing logic. It’s been successful though it isn’t based on any existing material and is not part of a franchise. And people middle-aged and older are making up a significant percentage of the audience.

According to data given exclusively to Business Insider by Movio — a marketing analytics company from cinema software group Vista Group International — 15.4% of the audience going to see “Once Upon a Time” to date has been 66 and older. The average is 10.6% across all titles, according to Movio, which based the report on approximately one million US moviegoers.

Read more: How that scene of Leonardo DiCaprio in a classic movie during “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” was pulled off

Movio’s analysis also shows this is the same audience that went out to movies like the Elton John biopic “Rocketman,” the action movie “Baby Driver,” and the unappreciated Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe dark comedy, “The Nice Guys.”

What those titles have in common with Tarantino’s movie is they all cater to an older audience. But of those movies, only “Baby Driver” earned over $100 million at the domestic box office, taking in $107.8 million after being in theaters for 16 weeks. “Once Upon a Time” has brought in $115.3 million domestically in just four weeks.

Why? Partly it’s the big names involved: Tarantino and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Margot Robbie. But nostalgia also plays into it.

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood Sony 6“These audience members would have been teenagers or young adults in 1969, at the time of the film’s setting, and would likely remember the impressionable events upon which the story is based,” the Movio report states.

And the data reveals another interesting fact: As the movie continues its run, more women are heading to the theaters to see it.

The opening night of the “Once Upon a Time” release was overwhelmingly male, according to Movio. The split was 71.4% male to 28.6% female (opening weekend it was 62.6% male to 37.4% female). That isn’t shocking, as Tarantino’s work is often thought to skew toward men. But things have leveled out some since then.

By the third week, the split was 57% male to 43% female.

Read more: Sony movie boss Tom Rothman explains why he bet big on Quentin Tarantino’s new movie and sets the record straight about a rumored deal term

And box-office numbers show that the movie has staying power. This past weekend, it only had a 34% drop in business compared to the weekend before it, and was the No. 1 movie in 28 markets internationally. In the UK, its five-day total of $8.9 million was a better opening than Tarantino’s previous hit across the pond, “Django Unchained.”

Studios will still continue to be laser-focused on providing audiences with blockbuster superhero movies because those bring in the huge coin, but what Sony is showing with “Once Upon a Time” is that the industry should not forget originality can cause a groundswell.

“In this year, and I would say in particular this summer, there are a lot of sequels and a lot of superheroes, and listen we do our fair share of them, but there are not a lot of real, bold original creations and I think that’s what he does,” chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group Tom Rothman told Business Insider before the release of “Once Upon a Time” about why he wanted to work with Tarantino. “I’m going to go to my grave believing that if we make fresh things, there is still an audience for freshness.”

Major takeaways from Movio report:

  • Moviegoers aged 66 and older make up a larger portion of attendance to “Once Upon a Time” than the average movie.
  • The movie draws on the nostalgia of the late 1960s.
  • It has attracted more female moviegoers the longer the movie has been in theaters.

“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” is currently playing in theaters.

SEE ALSO: The 6 winners and losers at the 2019 summer box office

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