Gen Z loves Minions, horror and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson

Group of cheerful people laughing while watching movie in cinema.

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Gen Z has been an enigma to the entertainment industry for years. But now there’s more insight into what they like.

The short answer: Minions and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, according to new data from decision intelligence company Morning Consult.

The long answer: Generation Z fits into some of the same molds as previous young generations, namely sharing a love for comedy and horror, but this current demographic is also very conscious about how they spend their time, preferring shorter episodes of TV and shorter feature films. They also spend less time consuming news from traditional media sources.

Aged 13 to 25, this cohort grew up with the internet and social media and was set to inherit a strong economy with a near record-low unemployment rate.

Then the pandemic hit.

Studios were already struggling to reach this tech-savvy group before Covid-19 shuttered movie theaters and pushed audiences toward streaming options and social media entertainment like TikTok. Now, Hollywood is scrambling to not only ramp up production, but also to adapt to this younger generation of viewers. And it will be vital for showbiz to understand the generation’s tastes as it matures.

Minions, Minions, Minions

“Minions: The Rise of Gru” is the sequel to the 2015 film, “Minions,” and spin-off/prequel to the main “Despicable Me” film series.


The Despicable Me franchise that includes “Rise of Gru” has a larger fan base among American Gen Zers than any other entertainment property, according to Morning Consult.

Sony’s “Jumanji” franchise is second, buoyed by Gen Z’s love of The Rock — Morning Consult said 73% of respondents had a favorable opinion of the action star.

Next come Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe and “Pirates of the Caribbean,” and then Universal’s “Jurassic Park.” Netflix’s “Stranger Things” is sixth, and the DC Universe, owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, ranks 10th.

Gen Z has grown up with the Minions. The first “Despicable Me” was released a little more than 12 years ago.

“A lot of the properties that are mentioned in the survey that we did tend to be a little more popular with millennials,” Blancaflor explained. “Lord of the Rings and Star Wars were a little bit lower on the list than Minions or Jumanji. Those films, and even a lot of the Marvel movies, came out a little bit before Gen Z was starting to come to age.”

This likely means Universal is on the right track greenlighting more Minions content. “Despicable Me 4” is slated for release in July 2024.

They like to be scared

In addition to enjoying comedy content, Morning Consult determined that Gen Z likes horror movies significantly more than the general public.

The firm’s data shows that 1 in 3 Gen Z adults saw a horror movie in theaters this fall, a significant turnout considering Hollywood studios and movie theaters have found it difficult to bring back audiences on a consistent basis since the pandemic.

“Gen Z is becoming a more reliable audience,” Blancaflor wrote in her report on the cohort. “Particularly, for scary stuff.”

She noted that recent original horror releases like Sony Pictures’ “Barbarbian” and Paramount Pictures’ “Smile” have surpassed expectations at the domestic box office on the strength of this younger audience.

“Message to studios: more horror, comedy and horror-comedy Gen Zers’ taste in genres is versatile,” Blancaflor wrote. “They want films and TV shows to scare them almost as much as they want them to make them laugh.”

As Hollywood looks to lure moviegoers, particularly younger ones, back to theaters, Morning Consult suggests they put marketing dollars toward advertising on platforms like TikTok where Gen Z lives.

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Data shows the majority of the generation hears about upcoming film and television shows from social media posts. More than half of Gen Zers saw, read or heard about the #GentleMinions trend on TikTok and were encouraged to see the film in cinemas and record themselves dressed up in suits and sunglasses.

Similar results were seen for the social media marketing of “Smile,” which saw hired actors attending televised MLB games, among other locations, and giving creepy smiles in view of cameras.

How much is too much?