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Hollywood thinks 50-year-olds have no wallets

From the April 2, 1999, Deseret News

Joyce tells me it's the proverbial good news/bad news scenario when you turn 50. You see, I turned 50 last year, and my wife has been 49 for . . . oh . . . four or five years now . . . I've lost track.

Anyway, on the positive side of the age-50 ledger, according to Joyce, are AARP discounts — which she has dubbed "semi-senior" discounts — for motels, hotels, prescriptions, auto insurance, etc. Also on the good-news side is not having to hire baby-sitters anymore.

Then there's . . . um . . . well, that's about it.

On the negative side, Joyce says turning 50 also means loss of hair, brittle bones, liver spots, bifocals, movies being too loud, cringing at things that younger people find funny and being called "Gramps" or "Grandma." (The latter is much worse when it's not your own grandchildren.)

When my birthday arrived last year, there were no black balloons or black cakes or little coffins as party favors. But one of my own kids did chime in with this, referring to my hair, which began to go gray when I was in my 30s: "Gee, Dad, you're finally as old as your hair."

But never mind all that. Mainly, hitting 50 in this entertainment-soaked day and age means falling out of the Hollywood demographic.

Once you turn 50, Hollywood doesn't care about you anymore. Movies and TV shows are aimed at a specific age group — 18-49.

When you're 50, Hollywood believes you no longer watch television, go to movies or purchase advertised products.

Lest you doubt, 20th Century Fox offered some proof late last month.

Fox, which has been the most lackadaisical major studio when it comes to releasing its classic archive to video, has a few titles that people want.

How do I know this? Because I've been asked about them uncountable times over the past decade or more, and because they always show up near the top of national surveys that ask "Why-Haven't-They-Released-That-Movie-On-Video?"

Late last month — without fanfare or advertising of any kind — Fox released four titles under its "Studio Classics" label: "Move Over, Darling" (1963), "Cheaper By the Dozen" (1950), "Goodbye Charlie" (1964) and "Mother Wore Tights" (1947). (They retail at $15 but are available for $13 or $14.)

Locally (and, I suspect, nationally), sales of the first two titles have been so brisk that video retailers were caught by surprise. A couple of Suncoast stores sold out of "Move Over, Darling" and had to order more. Media Play didn't order enough of "Cheaper By the Dozen" and sold out. "Goodbye Charlie" and "Mother Wore Tights" are also selling well.

OK, so who's buying Doris Day and Betty Grable videos? Teenagers? Twentysomethings?

Not unless they're presents for someone's 50th birthday!

And since this "surprising" sales surge is without any advertising support, imagine how well they'd sell if Fox let people know about them!

Oh, but I forgot. The over-50 crowd doesn't buy anything that's advertised. After 50, you don't buy toothpaste, computers, M&Ms or a new car!

And if Fox produced a TV spot — even something as simple as a tag on the ad for "Ever After" — to let you know a movie you've wanted for years is finally on video for the first time, you wouldn't run down to the local Suncoast or Media Play and buy it, would you?

Of course not. You're over 50. You've dropped out of the demographic that matters.

So, I made Joyce — a big Doris Day fan — go out and buy "Move Over, Darling" herself.

I would have gotten it for her but I can't. I turned 50. I'm no longer a consumer.

Joyce, on the other hand, will be 49 for a few more years.