You’ve heard of the MPAA rating movies by which are appropriate for children — G, PG and so forth — but here’s a new one: which movies are appropriate for adults. AARP, the advocacy group for Americans 50 and up, recently awarded the movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit its first-ever “Movies for Grownups” Seal, signifying that the international thriller would appeal to AARP’s demographic. Movies for Grownups has been an AARP movie-review franchise for about a decade, but this is the first time the organization has actually issued a stamp of approval. In announcing the decision, AARP’s senior VP and editorial director Myrna Blyth highlighted the AARP-worthy talent in the film, like Sir Kenneth Branagh and Kevin Costner.
The group also recently announced the winners of its annual Movies for Grownups award, with best picture going to 12 Years a Slave (which, yes, is definitely a movie for grownups).
(MORE: Richard Corliss reviews Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit)
And at first it may seem that, as AARP’s press release points out, there would be plenty of reasons for a filmmaker to want this seal of approval. In 2012, according to an MPAA industry report, people 50 and up comprised nearly one-fifth of all people who go to the movies at least once a month (and increase of more than 1 million people versus the prior year) and 25% of all moviegoers.
That said, the age groups of 50-59 and 60+ are the only ones counted where the percentage of moviegoers is smaller than the percent of the population; in other words, people 49 and younger are disproportionately represented in theater seats. Plus, with senior discounts, each of those fewer people is paying less. Appealing only to AARP members is probably a bad financial decision — but, as Paramount, the Jack Ryan studio, points out in their response to the AARP honor, “moviegoers of all ages” is a good demographic to aim for. And Jack Ryan is unlikely to be alone on the AARP list for long: Kevin Costner’s next movie comes out in just a few weeks.