Prompted by new research,Nielsen EDI has suggested putting more of a focus on cinemagoers aged 55 yearsand over as a way of addressing Australia's current box office demise.

General manager Simon Burton toldthe Australian International Movie Convention today that a key finding from thesurvey of 1,428 moviegoers was that the drop off in attendance was particularlyobvious among the most frequent customers.

While about two-thirds of18-39 year-olds have gone to the cinema in the last six months, one in three ofthis group were not going so often, one in four were dissatisfied aboutpricing, and two-thirds had seen a pirated movie in the previous six months.

One in three of those aged 55years and over were also going less but, in contrast, they were more satisfiedwith the cinema experience than any other age group and only 23% had watched apirated movie.

Delegates who agree withNielsen EDI that older customers represent an opportunity also note that theygrew up in and are familiar with cinema, have more spare time, and probablyprefer films that are less expensive to make. They saw great potential in TheWorld's Fastest Indian, one of the films shown in full at the convention,but could not see a lot of suitable films standing out in the product reels screened.

Box office revenue is down14% in Australia this year compared to 2004 and, not surprisingly, there ismuch debate around the issue at the convention.

UIP managing director MikeSelwyn was the executive who countered the doom and gloom most strongly. Hesaid the A$85 million taken in July was only A$2 million behind the same periodlast year and the A$11.5 million taken in the week to Wednesday was A$1.5million more. Perhaps a new group of stars is about to emerge that will drivethe box office to great heights, he suggested.

"People around the world areasking the same question (about flagging attendances) and the answer for mostof us is make better films," said Stephen Basil-Jones, former local managingdirector for Columbia TriStar, now London-based head of marketing anddistribution at DreamWorks. "You have the best infrastructure in the world andI think we are just seeing a little lull. ' The 1990s were glorious but youcannot expect to see double digit growth every year."