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Western Audience Profile

Tom 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. 

Hart's 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.

Gene 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 theaters.

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.


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