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Are the Boys Back at the Box Office? Not So Fast

Analysis: While ”Immortals“ and ”Jack and Jill“ performed better than expected at the box office, young men were really playing ”Modern Warfare 3“ and ”Skyrim“


The strong showing of "Immortals" and "Jack and Jill" this weekend — raking in a total of $57 million combined and beating expectations — buoyed Hollywood's hope that young men were finally turning back to the cineplex.

Uh, not so fast.

Exit polls showed that males made up 60 percent of the "Immortals'" audience. 

But only 37 percent came from moviegoers under 25 — the segment that includes the endangered moviegoing species of young men. 

Compare that to "300," which when it opened in 2007 had 52% of its audience under 25 and was also 60% male.

And Adam Sandler? His "Jack and Jill" audience was 52 percent female.

Where were the young men? Playing the blockbuster videogames that came out last week, "Modern Warfare 3" and "Skyrim."

Also read: Box Office: 'Immortals' Conquers the Weekend With a Big $32M Opening

Activision's latest "Call of Duty" war game, "Modern Warfare 3," broke a first-day sales record, moving 6.5 million units in its first day on store shelves — a one-day number that beats the 3.5 million – 4 million or so ticket buyers for "Immortals" over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the fantasy role-playing game "Skyrim" reached a concurrent player count of 290,000 since its Nov. 11 release.

Relativity Media credited the young male audience segment for the $32.2 million over-performance of its action film "Immortals" about Greek gods.

"People were concerned about young males, but I think they came out for 'Immortals,'" Kyle Davies, Relativity's president of worldwide distribution, told TheWrap Sunday.

But that's not really the case, since most of the "younger" ticket-buyers were between 25 and 35, hardly the teenaged male audience that used to drive much of the box office.

For context, "Immortals'" performance compares unfavorably to another swords-and-sandals action film, Warner Bros' "300," which drew an audience that was 60 percent male and 52 percent under 25 when it opened more than twice as big, $70.9 million, back in March 2007.

And "300" drew a far bigger number of moviegoers, achieving its opening without the benefit of premium 3D ticket sales, as "Immortals" did.

Also read: They May Be All Right, But Are Kids Running Away From the Multiplex?

Meanwhile, 45-year-old comic actor Adam Sandler — a reliable draw of young males earlier in his career with comedies including "Happy Gilmore," Billy Madison" and "The Waterboy" — is drawing a different crowd than he once did.

His latest Sony offering, "Jack and Jill" drew an audience that was 57 percent above the age of 25, and 52 percent female, while opening to $25 million this weekend.

It was the first pure-comedy film for Sony with Sandler as leading man that didn't open to $30 million — a remarkable 12-year run that included "Big Daddy," "Mr. Deeds," "Anger Management," "50 First Dates," "Click," "You Don't Mess With the Zohan," "Grown Ups" and "Just Go With It."

One veteran box office analyst said that Hollywood has stopped making movies for the young male demographic, noting that few movies have been aimed at that audience in the past year. Instead, Hollywood is making R-rated movies like "Hangover 2" that young men under 17 can't easily attend on their own even if they want to.

Also read: 'Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3' Breaks All-Time Sales Record

OTX research has found a drop of 7-8 percent in attendance by young males in the past year, about the same percentage of increase for the number of  R-rated movies that were released.

That analyst suggested that Hollywood has "abandoned" the young male.

If so, the videogame industry has certainly figured out how to find them.