Bolder Thinking Blog

The 2020 Oscars recognizes a new generation of moviegoers

February 11th, 2020 | John Poelking

Ever since #OscarsSoWhite rippled through Twitter five years ago, and when The Shape of Water and Green Book took home the top prize over movies such as Get Out, Black Panther and Lady Bird, criticism of The Academy has become eminent. But this year, a few things happened at the Academy Awards that signal a shift to accommodate new voices in an industry that often favors legacy over innovation.

Here, we detail 2020 Academy Awards moments that show what the next generation of moviegoers want to see recognized.

An international hit makes history

By the end of the night, the South Korean black comedy thriller Parasite took home four Academy Awards including ‘Best Picture,’ marking the first time an international feature has taken home the top prize.

Gen Z is the most multicultural generation in the US, and an essential audience to reach when elevating stories outside of the narrative that drove the #OscarsSoWhite campaign in the first place. Parasite’s wins show that the Academy’s efforts to make the voting body more inclusive might be starting to pay off.

Parasite won’t be the last international Best Picture winner. Multicultural moviegoers seek representation in the movies they watch, with Mintel research on digital trends showing that two in five Asian consumers prefer to watch content that represents Asian cultures. The booming movie scenes in China, South Korea and India have an influence on what American audiences watch. Voices from these markets will continue to make waves as younger consumers demand content that represents their experiences.

An array of winners highlights the importance of content creators

Eight of the nine nominees for Best Picture won an Academy Award in some category (the exception being The Irishman), showing that no one movie dominated. Moviegoers expect more available and diverse content, which has diluted the impact of one film taking the lion’s share.

In order to stand out in a crowded industry, studios are highlighting the work that goes on behind the scenes. Mintel research on movie theaters shows that two-thirds of moviegoers support movies from creators they like.

Notable snub: Netflix

Despite entering the Academy Awards with the most nominations of any studio, Netflix only came away with two wins. The streaming giant is coming up against big competition in 2020, as Apple TV+ and HBO Max will likely attempt to bulk up their prestige offerings over the next year. The Academy has been hesitant to let Netflix take over awards founded by the traditional movie studios that are still well-represented by the nominees.

Younger generations have been a big part of the streaming revolution, but they are still seeing a lot of movies in theaters too. Nearly nine in 10 Gen Z adults have seen a movie in theaters in the last six months, compared to nearly seven in 10 moviegoers overall. Gen Z has not given up on the movie theater experience, making traditional movie releases an ongoing necessity even amidst the competition from online platforms. Traditional movie releases will create a more special experience for younger generations as they are flooded with content elsewhere.

What we think:

The 2020 Academy Awards signaled a shift in the movie industry, recognizing new voices and their interests. Moviemakers will continue to lift up the people behind the camera in order to connect with audiences. Studios and distributors will continue to put directors, writers and cinematographers into the limelight as part of an effort to reach a new generation of moviegoers who want to connect to the people involved in all aspects of a movie’s creation. As more diverse representations of people get recognized, the more invested younger generations will be in these types of awards.

John Poelking

John Poelking

John Poelking is a Leisure Analyst at Mintel. His passion for live entertainment, movies, television, technology and travel informs his sector knowledge.