The Strange Allure of Nicolas Cage

Written by
Fifty Team

Insights by
Jerome Mckay-Jones

20 May, 2022

Haven’t you heard? Nicolas Cage has a movie out. And it’s not doing so well at the box office. Or maybe it is, depending on who you talk to.

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent is a meta-satirical take on Nic Cage. According to Box Office Mojo, the film has made almost $27 million worldwide since it was released in April, not quite breaking even with its $30 million budget. And yet, in the last 10 years his only other movies to best that figure are either ones where Cage is a voice actor (animated films like The Croods and Teen Titans Go!) or where he is not the main star (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse; Snowden). Otherwise, Cage’s last starring role that smashed at the box office was Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance in 2012. So maybe this movie counts as a recent success?

Cage has played a variety of roles and characters over the years, beyond what you might think when you see internet memes of “Cage Rage”, which poke fun at his over-the-top acting style, which often feature bursts of anger. So we wanted to understand, what is the enduring appeal of Nicolas Cage?

Using the Fifty platform, we combined social data with social listening to uncover: who are Nicolas Cage’s greatest fans and why might they turn out – or not turn out – to the cinema to watch his movies?

The #1 Fans

Of the three million people unearthed in the study, the largest tribe by over 100,000 people was Keen Gamers, with 445k people within it. They are Cage’s #1 fans it would seem. A predominantly male tribe (60%), the Keen Gamers are all about console gaming with top topics including Playstation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch.

Comics & Animations is an affiliate category associated with them, and a lot of actors who have played comic book characters rank highly as influences. Here we see Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool), Brie Lawson (Captain Marvel) and Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) appear, alongside Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson (overall action god) and Tom Holland (the latest Spider-Man). Seeing their love of action movies and comic books, it makes sense that they would be Nic Cage fans, considering his output. Perhaps seeing him play himself was enough to encourage them out of their gaming stations and into a cinema seat.

Keen Gamers was the largest tribe within the entire study.

The Easy Wins

The second, third and fourth largest tribes are all relatively the same size at around 300,000 people each. Knowing what we know about Nic Cage, they aren’t all that surprising. We have Millennial Progressives, US Sports Fans and Action Adventure & Fantasy Fans.

The Millennial Progressives, who coalesce around progressive politics, are an erudite bunch. They follow American politicians like Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, and have Books & Literature as a top category. One can surmise that their interest in Nic Cage lies in nostalgia – considering many of them would have been children and teenagers during Cage’s heyday in the 90s where he played iconic roles in films like Con Air and Face/Off. Perhaps that nostalgia isn’t quite enough for them to regularly tune into a Cage film, but if it is one that riffs on his past life as an actor…that could play enough on their nostalgia to encourage a watch.

The other two tribes, US Sports Fans and Action Adventure & Fantasy Fans reflect the mostly male nature of Cage’s audience. Both of these tribes are predominantly male (at 66% and 56% respectively), and each reflect the love of physical action – whether that be through sports-watching or film-watching.

Figure 2: Top influencers within ‘Millennial Progressives’, the fourth largest tribe, include Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Michelle Obama.

The Surprise Tribe

Perhaps the most unexpected tribe to be unearthed is the fifth largest tribe, Female Pop Culturists. At over 270k, it is a sizeable chunk of Cage's audience. This majority female tribe (54%) reflects an interest in mainstream entertainment with actors like Emma Stone and Tom Hiddleston and pop singers like Adele and Pink! ranking highly. 

Most of their affiliated categories have to do with Arts & Entertainment, whether that be music or movies, which suggests an overall love of pop culture. Their interest in staying up to date with the latest movies and cultural conversation might persuade them to watch The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Whether or not the film ultimately spoke to them, is another matter.

Figure 3: ‘Female Pop Culturists’ emerged as the 5th largest tribe within the entire study.

To discover audiences you didn’t know you had and leverage these insights into action, book a demo of Fifty’s platform today.

Photo credit: Nicolas Cage in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent; courtesy of Katalin Vermes/Lionsgate

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