If you’ve been to a movie theater in the last two months, there’s no escaping Jonathan Majors. Whoops, I meant Jane Fonda. (Man, Majors is now even getting cast in my blog copy.) The actress/fitness icon (Fonda, not Majors) is starring in a new movie being released this Friday, 80 for Brady.
The premise, as gleaned through the trailer, is straightforward: Four octogenarian women take a trip to the Super Bowl to see their beloved Patriots. Hijinks ensue —— the type of hijinks only a (grand)mother could love because they involve Guy Fieri, tripping balls, and double entendre-laced run-ins with Rob Gronkowski. Call it broad comedy.
In a case of cross-promotion, the NFL has granted a ton of access to league stars. Having captured every other demographic in the U.S., the league is now going after the grandmas. (Dementia: It’s not just for retired players!)
Starring alongside the 85-year-old Fonda is 83-year-old Lily Tomlin, 76-year-old Sally Field, and 91-year-old Rita Moreno. Between them they have five Oscars and enough plastic surgeons to start a thriving private practice.
The playbook for 80 is pretty direct. As BoxOfficePro notes, “The adult female-driven comedy is courting an under-served demographic.” It’s a demographic that still goes to movies not starring Chris Hemsworth, three spidermen, The Rock or, apparently, Jonathan Majors. As 2022’s Ticket to Paradise demonstrated (and Top Gun: Maverick, in a way), you don’t need superheroes to create a movie event; you just need to give people a good time with friends. And this one is custom built for a girls night out. The pitch: Come see a show starring people you know, drink some margs with your friends, and then hit the Olive Garden.
This isn’t Fonda’s only girls’ trip movie coming out this year. There’s also Book Club: The Next Chapter, a title that raises the question: “There was a Book Club 1?” Yes! In 2018, the original turned an estimated $10 million budget into more than $100 million in worldwide box office receipts. If the sequel, set in Italy, costs twice as much to make (the Riviera ain’t cheap) and does half as much business, it’ll still be a whopping success.
It stars Fonda gal pals Diane Keaton (77), Candice Bergen (76), and Mary Steenburgen (69), as well as a slew of erstwhile leading men, including Andy Garcia (66), Don Johnson (73) and Craig T. Nelson (78).
I’m giving ages not to be impolite but to make a point. These movies are probably going to be modest hits because they appeal to an age group that hasn’t had much to look forward to theatrically. After all, they don’t make movies —— or movie stars —— like they used to.