an all-star cast.
All of which, by the way, are major studio releases. So are the likes of Spike Jonze's "Her," Alexander Payne's "Nebraska" and Bill Condon's "The Fifth Estate" -- arty or politically charged works that big corporate entertainment entities would not have touched a few years ago.
Potential breakouts being released by indies or the studios' dependent arms include the Naomi Watts-starring "Diana" biopic; "12 Years a Slave," which is knocking 'em dead at the fall film festivals; the Coen brothers' acclaimed, folk music tragicomedy "Inside Llewyn Davis"; and "August: Osage County," with Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep acting up a storm.
Other possibilities abound, too.
"Between last fall and this fall, we're seeing a renaissance in the world of the adult drama," Hollywood.com's box office division President Paul Dergarabedian observed. "From 'Gravity' to 'Runner Runner' to 'Parkland' to 'The Counselor' to 'Wolf of Wall Street,' a lot of movies look really interesting. If these films fulfill the promise of their themes and the stars and directors that are associated with them, it's going to be a really spectacular fall.
"It was just three or four years ago when they said that the adult drama was dead," Dergarabedian continued. "There were a bunch of examples -- George Clooney and Julia Roberts movies that failed. But last fall it kind of made a comeback and this fall, I think it's going to really capitalize on that."
Several factors may be contributing to the rising popularity of such films.
"One thing which may be drawing a more mature audience is the luxury theaters trend," noted Agata Kaczanowska, a senior industry analyst for IBISWorld, who tracks developments in movie production and exhibition. "Theaters are investing in better seating, instituting alcoholic beverage service and serving dinners to audiences. That's relatively expensive, but it's actually increasing the box office from mature audiences; they're more likely to be able to afford it."
And we all know that the massive Baby Boom generation is reaching retirement age, with all that extra leisure time to go to movies. Make more movies for that growing market, and attendance can snowball.
"If there are more (mature) titles, there is definitely more opportunity for audiences to pick this genre over a different one," Kaczanowska said. "It would also mean that more money is being invested in them and marketing them and really getting them in front of audiences. When you have that combination of studios spending more on this particular genre and a maturing audience, it's going to boost the entire category."
Another plus: realistic grown-up movies are generally cheaper to produce than the elaborate fantasies younger audiences evidently grew weary with this summer.
"I think audiences are figuring it out again," Dergarabedian said. "Audiences got caught up in just the summer movie mentality year-round, and only wanted to see superhero movies and big-budget extravaganzas. But then they got kind of burnt-out on that and went, 'Wow, 'Argo''s a really good movie.' "
No matter how successful some adult dramas may become, though, none are likely to make the kind of high-end, blockbuster money that keep the major studios in business.
Still, at the moment, it ain't a bad business to be in.
"Y'know, less risk, less reward," Contrino acknowledged. "They're not going make a billion dollars off of 'Gravity,' but they're also not spending as much. So if any of these movies bomb, their losses aren't so steep. It's a give-and-take; you have to pick your times when to hold back a little bit and manage a tidy profit without having to spend an arm and a leg."
(c)2013 the Daily News (Los Angeles)
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