May 19, 2008

Shootout discusses "Chick Flicks" and Interviews Sarah Jessica Parkers

The weekly Hollywood insider show Shootout (show airs Sunday mornings at 11am EST on AMC) , hosted by "The Peters" (Peter Bart, Editor in Chief of Variety, and Peter Guber, big time producer) focused this weekend on women's films (AKA "chick flicks"), Sex and the City and Sarah Jessica Parker.

Peter Bart started out by showing how out of touch he is by saying that he didn't think that "chick flick" was a pejorative and that it is a good way to target women (I am paraphrasing.)

Peter Guber then talked about how "chick flicks" don't travel well overseas because they are dialogue driven, and then to contradict himself listed a bunch of them that have performed extremely well both here and overseas. He also talked about how they are a stable, successful part of the film business.

The problem was that they lumped a film like Juno in together with the Judd Apatow movies as examples of successful films targeted at women. While Juno was a great woman-centric film, lumping Judd Apatow flicks in here just goes to show how little women matter now in a film world where as Lisa Schwarzbaum in EW says: Guys are the New Girls.

These men behaving softly (but still manfully) are no accidents of nature or of the seasonal movie release calendar. They're diplomats of unisex appeal in the latest Hollywood campaign to keep romantic comedies viable- and profitable.
The bad news is that — as with any experiment involving gender, Hollywood, and the mutable factors that go into taste — finding the perfect recipe for a successful heterosexual romantic-comedy hero is subject to operator error. And, pssst, those operators are mostly male.
Because women go and see the Apatow movies in large numbers, and they are relatively cheap to make, we can guarantee that the masculinization of films targeted at women will continue.

I want to make it clear that there is a difference between a woman-centric film and a film targeted at women. Hollywood is trying to think about how to get men to go see films that used to be targeted at women to punch up the numbers. I want more films with women as leads, women as directors and writers and stories about women. I really don't want to see more stories where the guys play the so-called girls parts (ala Made of Honor) that are demeaning to both men and women.

The one thing that I agree with Peter Bart on is that it's a myth that these films don't travel well. The numbers below prove that. The numbers also show that Nancy Meyers is the smartest, most successful woman director/writer in Hollywood. Three of her films are on the list below (What Women Want, Somethings Gotta Give and The Holiday which was written off as a failure.) Whoops. $200 million gross is no failure. She knows how to make films that are interesting to both men and women, have strong female characters and don't demean either the male or female characters.

Successful women targeted films
Enchanted - $340 million worldwide gross
The Runaway Bride- $309 million
What Women Want- $374 million
Somethings Gotta Give- $265 million
The Devil Wears Prada- $327 million
The Holiday- $205 million

Bart went on to say that the chick flicks that don't work are the issue pictures like Mona Lisa Smile. He said if it's about feminism it will have a limited audience. Why are films about young women's lives in the 50s about feminism, when films about young men's lives are just about life?

They then greeted Sarah Jessica Parker and I thought the interview was extremely boring. The closest thing to interesting that SJP said is that she hates the term chick flicks, and that Sex and the City is a movie for men and women.

Some other quotes:
Why they created the Carrie Bradshaw assistant role Louise (played by Jennifer Hudson):
(Director) Michael (Patrick King) had a real instinct that first of all we needed to have a 20-year-old in this movie. We have to remember that there is a significant audience now because of syndication that has hooked into this show that are very, very young and it's a great way of reminding people of who Carrie was when she first came to New York. What was New York? What did it mean to her? What did it symbolize? What are the hopes and potential of this city that we all cling to when we come to this city and how is it different for a 20-year-old today and how is it the same?
On casting Jennifer Hudson:
African-American women and women of color have been a big part of the (SATC) audience for a long time. We really haven't been responsible to them in a way and we haven't given a woman of color an important and significant role and she is especially lovely in this movie.
This last quote did not make it onto the show but is exactly why we need more women-centric movies. The pressure on Sex and the City is just enormous. I see it everywhere. I think that women will go and see this film, but if there were other women's movies opening on a regular basis we wouldn't have to pin our hopes and future films onto only a couple of films.
"I was saying to someone the other day. I know this better than anything. I know this better than being a mother, a wife. This is kind of part of my DNA and I feel there is a lot at stake."
There is a lot at stake. Women even if you hate the crowds on the opening weekend, you must go. There is a lot at stake. I don't say this lightly. Get your tickets now!

The shootout with SJP re-airs Thursday, May 22nd at 6:15am ET & PT/5:15C and Sunday, June 1st at 5:30am ET & PT/4:30C. You can also see highlights from the show at Set those DVRs.