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September 14, 2015

How old are Hollywood film producers?

Hollywood film producers Harvey Weinstein at the OscarsIn the past few weeks I’ve looked at the age of action heroes, Hollywood screenwriters and Hollywood directors, and now I am finishing the journey by looking at the age of Hollywood film producers.

I looked at two sets of films – the 100 highest grossing films of each year for the past two decades and the 100 highest grossing films in each genre of all time. In summary:

  • In 2014, the average age for a producer of a top Hollywood film was 52 years old
  • The genres with the youngest film producers were documentaries, horror films and comedies. 
  • The oldest film producers worked on war films, historical films and biographies
  • Executive Producers’ ages are very similar to that of full Producers
  • Only 20% of Hollywood producers are under 40 years old, compared with 30% of directors and 42% of screenwriters
  • Film producers’ ages have risen the fastest, growing 11% between 1994 and 2015
  • Average ages of Directors and Screenwriters have also been growing but by a smaller margin (9% and 4%)

Older than directors and screenwriters

Ever since I mentioned I was going to be looking at the age of producers I’ve been swamped with guesses.  The average age of screenwriters of films released in 2014 was 46 years 10 months and directors were slightly older at 49 years 6 months.  Most people I spoke to correctly guessed that producers are, on average, older than writers and directors.  

The average age of a Hollywood film producer of a top grossing film released in 2014 was 52 years old (well, 51 years, 11 months and 9 days, to be exact).

Age of Hollywood producers

The genres with the oldest and youngest film producers

The genres with the youngest film producers were documentaries (44.2 years old), horror (45.6) and comedy (45.9).  The oldest producers worked on war films (52.1 years old), historical films (51.9) and biographies (50.9).

Age of Hollywood producers by genre

Other types of Hollywood film producers

The main findings above looked at people who received the full “Producer” or “Produced by” credit.  I also researched other producer credits but it proved harder to find date of birth data.  For producers, I found 64% of dates of birth, for Executive Producers I found 45%, 25% for Co-Producers and 18% for Associate Producers. Although I don’t regard this as enough data to provide robust findings, I did find that Associate Producers tended to be a lot younger (average age: 41) whereas Executive Producers’ ages are very similar to that of full Producers.  

Age of Hollywood producers and executive producers

If you want to know more about the types of film producers on Hollywood movies then you may enjoy an older article I wrote on the number of producers on Hollywood movies.

How do the age of producers compare to directors and screenwriters?

Only 20% of Hollywood film producers are under 40 years old, compared with 30% of directors and 42% of screenwriters.

age spread of key Hollywood creatives

Film producers ages have risen the fastest, growing 11% between 1994 and 2015. Average ages of Directors and Screenwriters have also been growing but by a smaller margin (9% and 4% respectively).

age of key Hollywood creatives

Methodology

For today’s research I created two datasets…

  • Top films of each year.  These are the 100 highest grossing films of each year at the US box office (according to IMDb) between 1994 and 2014, inclusive (this relates to their US release date).  That’s 2,100 films in total. 
  • Top films of each genre. These are the 100 highest grossing films in each genre (as defined by The Numbers / Opus) released at any time before the end of 2014. 

When reading this research there are a few things to bear in mind…

  • Historical data accuracy. The further back in time we study, the more prone we are to data errors. 
  • Age relates to age on the first day of the film’s theatrical release. Films can take a number of years for a film producer to take it from concept to big screen, so to get a true measure of the age of film producers while they’re hard at work then the results above need to be reduced slightly.
  • Missing information.  I was able to find reliable dates of birth for 63.6% of my full Hollywood film producers, which is a lower percentage than for directors (85%) and screenwriters (67%)

Epilogue

I wasn’t sure what the reaction would be to this age research into Hollywood creatives but the most common response I’ve seen is “Phew – I’ve still got time”!

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5 Responses

  1. Audrey Kinley June 14, 2016 at 1:08 am #

    Wow, I never knew that the average age for a producer was 52 years old. That’s not really old, but that’s not young either. I wonder what it takes to become a producer for a Hollywood film. Does it take a lot of schooling?

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