Hollywood’s Report Card, According to High School Kids

teens movies
Today’s kids are far savvier about marketing than in the 2000s, and see trailers constantly on YouTube and social media, where they spend way more time than at the cineplex. Photo: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
June 17, 2024

Back in the 2000s, the L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein used to gather a group of high school kids, show them that summer’s big movie trailers, record their feedback, and present the insights of his “summer movie posse” as a kind of public focus group—a check-in on how the studios were doing with the youth market. It was always fascinating to see what the target audience was actually thinking about the product. The kids often rejected “surefire” marketing strategies and cared more about stars that weren’t getting top billing.

Of course, today’s kids are far savvier about marketing and see trailers constantly on YouTube and social media, where they spend way more time than at the cineplex. But as we hit the heart of the summer, I wanted the youth vote’s thoughts on the state of the major theatrical franchises like Marvel, DC, and horror—and to hear about their moviegoing habits, in general. So with the help of a friend and his teen daughter, I rounded up six 15-year-olds from a West L.A. high school and had a more general chat (though I did show them a few trailers for upcoming releases; Beetlejuice Beetlejuice and The Bikeriders scored high; Wicked… not so much).