Recent social media trends and box office sales highlight that Hollywood is struggling to understand younger generations.
Newer generations having wildly different trends, opinions and senses of humour than those of the generations that came before them is nothing new. I mean, no one really rocks shoulder pads or A Flock Of Seagulls-style haircuts these days, even though they were all the rage in the 80s.
But many things over the years have stayed relatively constant; including the way films are marketed. Sure, things have become more digitalised in recent times; social media posts have replaced physical posters and most people see trailers on YouTube now rather than on free-to-air television.
However, things will need to change in the near future if Hollywood wants to stay thriving. This is because Generation Z, the people born between the late 1990s and early 2000s, – most of whom are now young adults – are proving that Hollywood is completely out of touch when it comes to marketing films.
How? Through surprising and unpredictable box office sales.
For example, Morbius – a Marvel film that was released earlier this year – began trending on social media just a few weeks ago; especially on Twitter and TikTok. So much so, that Sony, the production company behind Morbius, decided to re-release the film into cinemas.
However, what Sony didn’t seem to understand was that Morbius was trending because Gen Z was ironically making fun of it and had no desire to see the film in cinemas. And so, when Morbius was re-released it flopped and cost Sony a lot of money.
Now, Minions: The Rise of Gru – a kids’ film from Universal Pictures that’s currently in theatres – is trending on social media because Gen Z is, again, ironically making fun of the film. So surely, based on what happened with Morbius and Sony, Universal shouldn’t expect young adults to go see Minions: The Rise of Gru in cinemas and shouldn’t market the film to them, right? Wrong.
Social media is now flooded with videos of various groups of Gen Z men flocking to the cinema to see Minions: The Rise of Gru while wearing suits and formal wear. Some of these men are even bringing bananas (the minions’ favourite food) and have posted videos of them throwing the bananas at the cinema screen while the film plays.
The men are doing this to be ironic and, ultimately, to mock Minions: The Rise of Gru but at the end of the day, this ‘trend’ – dubbed Gentleminions – is translating into box office sales. In fact, Minions: The Rise of Gru is smashing box office records and has, so far, made over US$200 million worldwide.
Universal is aware of the trend and its official Twitter account tweeted, “to everyone showing up to Minions in suits: we see you and we love you” a few days ago. But it’s unclear whether Universal actually understand that Gen Z is not purchasing tickets and wearing suits to the film because they genuinely want to see it; they’re doing it for sh*ts and giggles.
What is clear is that, when it comes to Gen Z, it’s unpredictable whether a film trending on social media will actually be reflected at the box office. So, Hollywood will really need to figure out a new marketing strategy if they want to stay in touch with the younger generation…