Kids pick their favorite flicks

LiveWire went on-line this month to check out kids' screen favorites and movie-viewing trends. They told us about their picks and pans, trips to the theater, video rental rituals and home video collections. The predominate finding was that when it comes...
March 1, 1999

LiveWire went on-line this month to check out kids’ screen favorites and movie-viewing trends. They told us about their picks and pans, trips to the theater, video rental rituals and home video collections. The predominate finding was that when it comes to movies, kids can’t feast their eyes on enough-animation, comedy, drama, action, romance, you name it-kids are in the theaters, and they’re not just there for the popcorn.

What we found:

Top picks

Titanic was the clear winner as kids’ favorite movie of all time. Armageddon and The Little Princess tied for second. Interestingly, however, very few kids had actually seen their favorite movie on the big screen. A Bug’s Life was the most common answer for the last movie seen in the theater, with The Prince of Egypt close behind. When asked about their favorite movie genre, girls overwhelmingly picked comedy, while the boys chose action and drama. Our panel’s vote for next kid-fave was, you guessed it, Star Wars: Episode One-The Phantom Menace.

Kids’ influence

Kids visit the theater, on average, about once a month with their whole family. They most often pick the movie of the month, but when it comes to movie approval in both the theater and the video store, Mom has the biggest say. All of the boys on our panel (ranging in age from eight to 12) are allowed to see PG-rated movies, while about a quarter of the girls (same age range) are not. A majority of the boys are allowed to watch movies rated PG-13, while only half of the girls are. Nearly none of our panelists are allowed to see R-rated movies. Even so, about a fifth of the girls claim to have seen an R-rated movie on video, and more than half of the boys say they had too. Some kids say they are allowed to view R-rated movies at home, where parents fast-forward through more mature scenes.

Video collections

Comparing the release rate of kid-targeted movies to the frequency of theater visits, it’s no surprise that trips to the video store happen more often-about once a week. Mom usually picks the film, guided by kids’ suggestions. Disney’s Mulan was voted the most anxiously awaited

video release.

Once kids decide on a movie favorite, they watch it again and again-on average, about eight times. The most logical and cost-effective way to deal with multiple-viewing seems to be to buy a copy for home. Most of our kids say they have a home movie collection of their favorites. The three most popular members of the kids’ collection are Titanic, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid.

What kids said:

We asked kids to concoct an original idea for a movie, complete with a storyline, character names and the actors they would pick to star in their new film. The boys overwhelmingly chose science-fiction themes, such as alien encounters and new worlds. The girls focused on real-life drama and social themes, such as friends and relationships. Here are four of our favorites:

‘My movie would be about a boy who plays video games a lot, and is playing his favorite game, Sonic the Hedgehog, when he gets sucked into the game and he must beat Robotnick before he can go back. His parents and his best friend are very worried about him. Their names are J.C., John, Rebaka, Robotnick and Isaac, starring me, my mom, Will Smith, Arnold Schwarzenegger and my dad.’ Joseph, 11, West Virginia

‘My movie would be a Barbie movie. Barbie would come alive and have lots of adventures helping people. No one believes it’s really Barbie until she’s able to turn herself back into a doll. She goes back and forth-that’s how she gets in and out of trouble. The parts would be played by the characters of Friends. For Barbie: Lisa Kudrow, for Ken: David Schwimmer.’ Sarah, 11, New York

‘This kid and his best friend get zapped to another dimension where it is medieval times. They have to defeat the evil warlord and his minions. The portal they fell through caused a disturbance and aggravated him, and now he wants to kill them. Karot is the name of the hero, Lessra is the sidekick, and there is a friendly band of elves. Karot would be played by Ben Affleck, and Leonardo DiCaprio would be Lessra. The elves would be Jim Henson muppets.’ Alex, 12, New York

‘My movie would be about a bunch of friends who just hang out and have fun. Their names would be Stephanie, Stacie, Bobbie and Nicki, starring Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell, Will Smith and Cher.’ Stephanie, 12, Tennessee

Next month:

KidThink checks out the link between kids books, magazines and TV show production.

Kid Think Inc., a youth marketing consulting group, investigates a wide range of issues in kids’ lives. Kid Think talks with kids via LiveWire: Today’s Families Online,

a proprietary panel of more than 1,100 on-line families across the United States. Both Kid Think and LiveWire are divisions of Griffin Bacal, a New York-based communications agency specializing in the youth and family markets. If you have any questions or subjects you would like Kid Think to cover, call Paul Kurnit at 212-415-2992

or e-mail

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