Adults, not kids, are driving the animation trend

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Adults, not kids, are driving the animation trend

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Animation movies have been among the top players at the Korean box office so far this year.

Starting with Pixar-Disney’s “Inside Out,” which opened in July, a string of successful animations has followed, including Illumination’s “Minions” and Aardman Animations’ “Shaun the Sheep.”

“Inside Out,” directed by Pete Docter, attracted nearly five million moviegoers, making 37.8 billion won ($31.7 million) in Korea, becoming the third most-watched animation of all time in the country.

“Minions,” still playing in theaters, has sold 2.6 million tickets to earn 18.7 billion won. Despite it not being a big debut, the film quietly attracted a following to join the ranks of the top 10 animated films in Korea. “Shaun the Sheep” also attracted a considerable 89,722 attendees.

According to an exclusive report by Yonhap News Agency last week, the total ticket admissions for animation features in July and August more than doubled compared to the same period last year.

At the same time, last July and August had a total of 26 animated features available at theaters, while this year there were only 14, showing increased attendance per movie.

Behind the phenomenon is the rising number of “kidults,” who are grown-ups who share the hobbies and sentiments of kids.

According to a report from the CGV Research Center, a think tank operated by CJ Entertainment, the main demographic group attending animated movies are 30-something adults.

For “Inside Out, ”about 37 percent of the ticket sales tracked by the center were those in their 30s, while people in their 20s accounted for 36 percent and 40-somethings took up 24 percent.

Similarly, the largest demographic of moviegoers for “Minions” and “Shaun the Sheep” were those in their 30s.

The trend was also apparent when fast food franchise McDonald’s rolled out promotional events in July and August involving plastic toys of Minions characters.

Branches in central Seoul sold out of the toys immediately, with office workers lining up out front during lunch hour.

“Most of the buyers were those in their 20s and 30s,” said a franchise official.

Film industry insiders say a marketing strategy targeting the kidults who have a penchant for kids’ toys helped boost the film’s popularity.

The movie’s simple yet heartwarming message may have also attracted the older generation, whose reality might not be so heartwarming.

“Enduring stress and struggles in reality, people in their 20s and 30s want to relax their minds at the theater. Naturally, animations were an apt choice, which adds up to their popularity if they have cute characters,” said culture critic Ha Jae-keun.

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]
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