Gen Z loves Minions, horror and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

Group of cheerful people laughing while watching movie in cinema.

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Generation Z has been an enigma for the entertainment industry for years. But now there’s more insight into what they like.

The short answer: Minions and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, according to new data from business intelligence firm Morning Consult.

The long answer: Gen Z fits in some of the same molds as previous younger generations, namely sharing a love for comedy and horror, but this current demographic is also very aware of how they spend their time, preferring shorter television episodes and shorter feature films. They also spend less time on news from traditional media sources.

Aged 13 to 25, this cohort grew up with the internet and social media and was to inherit a strong economy with near-record unemployment.

Then the pandemic hit.

Studios were already struggling to reach this tech-savvy group before Covid-19 shuttered movie theaters and pushed audiences toward streaming options and social media entertainment like TikTok. Now, Hollywood is scrambling not just to ramp up production, but also to accommodate this younger generation of viewers. And it will be vital for showbiz to understand the tastes of the generation as it matures.

Minions, Minions, Minions

“It’s perhaps not too surprising that Gen Z is all over social media,” said Saleah Blancaflor, entertainment reporter at Morning Consult. “Our Morning Consult study found that the majority of Gen Zers hear about upcoming posts from people who post them on social media.”

Blancaflor highlighted the “#GentleMinions” trend, which gained popularity on TikTok during this year’s release of Universal and Illumination’s “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” a prime example of how Gen Z hears about movie releases and can rally together to boost box office ticket sales.

The trend has seen groups of young moviegoers dress up in formal wear to attend screenings of the film. The film earned $107 million domestically in its opening weekend, with those ages 13 to 24 accounting for 56% of box office receipts, according to Comscore’s PostTrak data.

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is the sequel to the 2015 movie, “Minions”, and spin-off/prequel to the main “Despicable Me” film series.

Universal

The Despicable Me franchise that includes “Rise of Gru” has a larger fan base among American Gen Zers than any other entertainment property, according to Morning Consult.

sony The ‘Jumanji’ franchise is second, buoyed by Gen Z’s love of The Rock – Morning Consult said 73% of respondents had a favorable opinion of the action star.

Come next by Disney Marvel Cinematic Universe and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” then Universal’s “Jurassic Park.” by Netflix “Stranger Things” is sixth, and the DC Universe, owned by Discovery of Warner Bros.ranks 10th.

Gen Z grew up with Minions. The first “Despicable Me” came out a little over 12 years ago.

“A lot of the properties mentioned in the survey we have tend to be a bit more popular with millennials,” Blancaflor explained. “The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars were a little lower on the list than Minions or Jumanji. Those movies, and even a lot of Marvel movies, came out a little before Gen Z started getting old.”

This likely means Universal is on the right track with giving the green light to more Minions content. “Despicable Me 4” is slated for release in July 2024.

They like to be scared

In addition to enjoying comedic content, Morning Consult determined that Gen Z enjoys horror movies far more than the general public.

The company’s data shows that one in three Gen Z adults saw a horror movie in theaters this fall, a significant turnout given that Hollywood studios and theaters have struggled to bring back the public consistently since the pandemic.

“Gen Z is becoming a more trusted audience,” Blancaflor wrote in her cohort report. “Particularly, for the scary stuff.”

She noted that recent original horror releases like Sony Pictures’ “Barbarbian” and Paramount Pictures’ “Smile” have exceeded domestic box office expectations thanks to the strength of that younger audience.

“Message to Studios: More Horror, Comedy, and Horror Comedy Zers genre genres are versatile,” Blancaflor wrote. “They want movies and TV shows to scare them almost as much as they want them to laugh.”

As Hollywood looks to lure moviegoers, especially younger ones, to theaters, Morning Consult suggests they spend marketing dollars advertising on platforms like TikTok where Gen Z lives.

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Data shows that the majority of the generation hears about upcoming movie and TV shows from social media posts. More than half of Gen Zers have seen, read or heard of the #GentleMinions trend on TikTok and have been encouraged to see the film in theaters and check in dressed in costumes and sunglasses.

Similar results were seen for the social media marketing of “Smile,” which saw hired actors attend televised MLB games, among other venues, and give creepy smiles in full view of the cameras.

How much is too much?

Additionally, apps like TikTok have determined how much Gen Z wants to spend on watching TV or watching a movie, Morning Consult reported.

As prestige television ushered in the era of long-form television shows, like the hour-plus episodes of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” and blockbusters evolved to be longer than three hours, the generation Z balks at this tendency.

Gen Z wants TV episodes to be 45 minutes or less, reports Morning Consult, with 35% of respondents calling it an ideal runtime and 34% preferring 30-minute episodes. For movies, Gen Z said they prefer them to be between two and two and a half hours long.

While some streaming services, like Netflix, experimented with the length of shows, others over-corrected their course, Blancaflor said. She pointed to Quibi, the failed short-form entertainment app that tried to make 10-minute TV episodes.

While Quibi may have understood that younger audiences appreciate more condensed content, its execution was lacking, Blancaflor said, causing the app to be shut down after just a few months.

“How this generation spends their time is important and valuable to them,” she said.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.

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