Aug 6, 2008

Finally…women are getting better choices at the box office

In this year of movies that have been aimed straight for the wallets of the coveted fanboy demographic, it seems that someone has finally figured out that woman also like movies as well, and not just cheesy romantic comedies at that. Last year, ENCHANTED pulled in some great numbers (ok, so it was romantic comedy, but with a twist) but this year, had anyone told me that in the second week of release that the latest INDIANA JONES movie would be beaten at the box office by SEX AND THE CITY, I would have told them they were nuts. I knew SEX IN THE CITY would do well given the fact that I am well aware of the following the show had, but listening to the females around me, I was quite unprepared for the hype and opening weekend “girls night out” phenomenon that by weekend’s end I pretty much assumed INDY was going to be in second place (and it was…but I believe it pulled ahead again the following week). The whole idea of the “girls night out” masses really was something I had never seen before. Almost all the females I worked with had plans to see it with their girlfriends or mothers, and I daresay that weekend I’m sure the top selling drink was a cosmopolitan. Not only that, I head that SEX AND THE CITY was more pleasing to fans of the show (I still haven’t seen it) than was INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL to most fanboys.

Then there is MAMMA MIA, another female oriented movie released against the juggernaut that is THE DARK KNIGHT. Not only is it female oriented, but geared towards middle aged and up, a demographic that is largely ignored! Given THE DARK KNIGHT competition, MAMMA MIA has been holding its own, and when I went to see it well after it had opened the theater was still almost sold out which was surprising given the time of day. Not to mention I was one of 4 males in the room (and from the looks of it, the only one that was there voluntarily). I personally did not take to MAMMA MIA, but the crowd loved it. Not only were they laughing and just generally having a good time, but some people were even singing along!

Then there is my experience at this year’s SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON this year, where the biggest noise did not come from the fanboys during WOLVERINE or TR2N, but from the females who were going absolutely nuts over TWILIGHT and the “dreamy” teenage cast. I personally don’t think I have ever heard a male crowd at Comic-con chant the name of the movie they were anticipating before a panel before – not to mention the frequent yells of TAKE OFF YOUR SHIRT (mind you, men can’t yell that at female stars, it would just be too creepy).

Let’s face it, women have their shows and movies they like as well – and they can even be more rabid fans than men, and less likely to be as hostile in Internet chat rooms if say their favorite character is wearing the wrong color, or eating the wrong brand of cereal. Remember all those legions of STAR WARS fanboys who lined up for Episode I (ok so I was one…) for days, only to go online immediately to trash Lucas and company relentlessly over Jar Jar? Look at the legion of fans for BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and the spinoff ANGEL. I daresay 90% of Joss Whedon’s biggest fans are female. Also, I would even go so far as to say that women are the driving force behind the popularity of the HARRY POTTER series. I in fact would never have even picked one of the books at all had it not been for the persistence of my employer’s (at the time) sister (and needless to say, after Comic-con, I will be going out of my way to read TWILIGHT as well). The demographic that everyone is out there chasing is a major driving force when it comes to entertainment, but let’s face it, in a world where video games like GRAND THEFT AUTO IV are making more in a week than a movie does during it’s full theatrical run, well that’s a lot of males that will be sitting at home with controllers and not in theater seats.

This to me is a very good trend. It’s nice to see that women are starting to be treated like serious movie goers rather than being subjected to a mind-numbing amount of knock-off romantic comedies. Let’s face it, one day, the studios are going to run out of comic book properties, and while all those guys are at home playing their 3-D holographic video games or whatever the new fad is then, they’re going to need someone else to fill those empty theater seats.