Hollywood has long been known for its obsession with youth and beauty, but media experts say a sea change is coming, thanks to the box-office power of over-40 beauties such as Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry and Cameron Diaz.
"Forty is the new 25 in Hollywood," Sharon Waxman, editor-in-chief of TheWrap, told ABC News Oct. 18. "We have these actresses who look incredible for any age. They have to appear on these screens in HD — and 3-D in Bullock's case — and they totally stand the test of the camera."
An over-40 actress much be in incredible shape, look young, and have sex appeal in order to remain on the Hollywood A-list. A great example is Sandra Bullock, who at 49 has barely aged during the past 20 years, thanks to a healthy diet and rigorous workouts.
Similarly, "True Blood" hunk Joe Manganiello noted that Hollywood has begun to embrace a more rugged, masculine aesthetic ideal. "You've still got to be able to act and emote, but you also have to fit the role physically, and that physique is now lean and muscular," said the ripped 6-foot-5 Manganiello.
In August 2013, Melanie Griffith slammed Hollywood ageism, saying film executives are only interested in casting nubile young actresses. Griffith, 56, was extremely popular in the 1980s, but claims she stopped getting film offers during her forties.
Griffith had no complaint when her 24-year-old daughter, Dakota Johnson, was cast in the much buzzed-about "Fifty Shades of Grey" last month.
"[Hollywood] is a very superficial place,” said Griffith. “It is all about youth and beauty, for women anyway."
But film insiders insist this isn't entirely true, now that there are so many actresses over the age of 40 who are redefining the standards for what's considered sexy. They also point out that movie fans have gotten older, along with their favorite screen icons, which means Hollywood must cater its films toward an older audience.
"This is a great time for actresses over 40 — maybe even a renaissance — as audiences change and evolve," said media analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "It's good for Hollywood, it's good for the audience, and it's obviously great for these ladies."
Indeed, research from the Motion Picture Association of America indicated that over one-third of all movie tickets purchased in North America were by consumers over the age of 40. As a result, Hollywood can no longer afford to ignore this large segment of the film-going population.
"The 18 to 24 [age demographic] movie fans of 10 and 20 years ago are now in their 30s and 40s," said Dergarabedian. "They are still fans of the movies and they are growing up with the stars that they love. They are growing up together."