Western Audience Profile
Mix's success (by 1925, he earns $
17,000 a week or $204,000 a week 2002 dollars) changes the Western film.
His movies introduce a new kind of hero but they change Hollywood. It
shows that there is a ready and dependable market for films that place
action and excitement over complexities of character and theme.
focuses his films for the general audience, like most films. Tom
Mix and the other cowboy stars of this era shift towards a focused
audience. In his movies, the lack of killing and no drinking, smoking or
swearing makes the pictures fit for young people. After Tom
Mix, we see Gene Autry,
the most popular cowboy star of the late 1930s and early 1940s.
Autry takes these attributes to a new level. He establishes the
Cowboy�s Ten Commandments, which makes sure that his films are fit for
young people, especially young boys. In Gene
Autry's cowboy commandments:
1) Never takes unfair advantage.
2) Never goes back on his word.
3) Always tells the truth.
4) Is always gentle to old people, children and animals.
5) Is never racial or religiously intolerant.
6) Always helps people in distress.
7) Never smokes or drinks.
8) Is always clean in thought, word, deed and personal grooming.
9) Respects women and the nation's laws.
10) Is a patriot (above all).
In 1933, Ralston Purina starts to sponsor
a children�s radio show that features Tom
Mix. Other cereal companies join the bandwagon. Grape Nuts hires Buck
Jones and Quaker Oats take on Roy
Rogers. Kids alone cannot generate the huge Tom
Mix audience for his movies. The Western film has become a
specialized genre. Age alone, boys or girls, has not been the sole factor.
The geographical location where the studio exhibits the films play an
import part in the success. The studios look to the rural and small town
At the time, film studios did not do any
market research to find who their audience is. The main source of data is
the box office returns. In some independent research, Western becomes less
popular as children grow older. In 1926, a study finds that the Western is
the most popular in rural areas. Then there is the pre-teen study that
boys like Westerns more than girls do. As they grew older, boys go for
adventure and comedy films, while the girls like romance films.
RKO Pictures hires a Gallup Poll to
perform a market research study. The Western comes out low in adult
popularity, with women liking it least. Just like any problem with
categorizing is what really is the category�s definition. A Western can
be a comedy, a romance, and even a musical. The Western�s audience is
specific: kids and men in rural areas.