Jan 31, 2023
Comscore, AARP Study Shows Older Audiences Movie Attendance Has Surpassed Pre-Pandemic Levels

WASHINGTON—New data from Comscore commissioned by AARP found older audiences returned to movie theaters in great numbers in 2022, outpacing rates from even before the pandemic, according to the Comscore/Screen Engine ASI PostTrak Data. According to the data, the attendance of people 45 and older grew five percent from previous attendance levels in 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic affected theater attendance.

The findings align with the mission of AARP’s Movies for Grownups (MFG) program. For more than two decades, MFG has championed movies for grownups, by grownups, by advocating for the 50-plus audience, fighting industry ageism, and encouraging films and TV shows that resonate with older viewers.

According to the study, in 2022, older movie-goers pushed several films to have the best box office performance in years.

  • Paramount Pictures’ “Top Gun: Maverick” soared as the top grossing film of the year thanks in part to older audiences, as nearly 40 percent of the audience that went to see the film were 45 or older.
  • Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Elvis” also performed well, according to box office analysts, due in large part to older audiences. While a hit among all audiences, older audiences comprised the largest segment to see “Elvis” in theaters with 45 percent of moviegoers ages 45 and older.

“Film and television content that demonstrated great storytelling on topics that resonate with older audiences – found in movies like ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and ‘Elvis’ – are bringing this generation back to movie theaters,” said Heather Nawrocki, VP of AARP’s Movies for Grownups program. “Older audiences also know the theatrical experience cannot be replicated, which means they will continue to see movies in theaters and support filmmakers and studios that connect directly with their interests.”

Many experts in the entertainment industry predicted a permanent shift in audiences’ viewing habits, especially among older audiences who were particularly vulnerable to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the 2022 box office results from Comscore point to a recovery and potential expansion of content consumption as streaming content also rose along with movie theater attendance.

“As our data shows, mature audiences were key in the success of many of 2022's most high profile and well-reviewed films laying to rest the notion that older movie fans would rather stay home than venture out to enjoy the bigger-than-life experience that only the movie theater can provide," said Paul Dergarabedian, Senior Media Analyst for Comscore. "A diverse array of films grabbed the attention of this key demographic, and this fact should not be lost on the entertainment community as they map out their plans for the production of upcoming movies."

Audiences 45 and older consistently came out to movie theaters last year with strong attendance numbers including:

  • “Downton Abbey: A New Era” ($44,141,550): 63% of the audience was 45 and older
  • “Ticket to Paradise” ($68,275,985): 48 % of the audience was 45 and older
  • “The Lost City” ($105,344,029): 29% of the audience was 45 and older

The 21st annual MFG Awards ceremony will take place on Saturday, January 28, 2023.


About AARP

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. With a nationwide presence and nearly 38 million members, AARP strengthens communities and advocates for what matters most to families: health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. AARP also produces the nation's largest circulation publications: AARP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org, www.aarp.org/espanol or follow @AARP, @AARPenEspanol and @AARPadvocates, @AliadosAdelante on social media.

For further information: Paola Groom, AARP, pgroom@aarp.org; Jason Magner, Rogers & Cowan PMK, Jason.Magner@rogersandcowanpmk.com