July 17, 2008

Did Hollywood Get the Message About Women?

Film historian Marjorie Rosen, author of Popcorn Venus, wrote an optimistic commentary in yesterday's Women's eNews saying that this summer the women onscreen are outshining their male counterparts.

She argues that the successes of Sex and the City, Angelina Jolie in Wanted, Kit Kittredge (not seen as a success at all) and Mamma Mia! (fingers crossed that it will do well) will hopefully make the male executives realize that women can be successful at the box office.

One can only hope. The most important point she makes is trying to get Hollywood to analyze the guy film flops in the same context as the women film flops. Wouldn't that be nice?

To put the situation into perspective, did any studio executive ever muse, after the shocking failure of last fall's Brad Pitt vehicle, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (domestic box office: $6 million; worldwide: $15 million), that it would be a smart idea to stop making movies featuring man-centric stories?

Did anyone have misgivings about boys-will-be-boys flicks when Wes Anderson's testosterone-drenched "The Darjeeling Limited," with Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman and the Oscar winner Adrien Brody, opened the New York Film Festival last September, then broke down before ever gathering steam (worldwide: $15.5 million)?

And, on assessing the rotten global returns of George Clooney's "The Good German" ($6 million), Ryan Gosling's "Lars and the Real Girl" ($10 million) or Johnny Depp's "The Libertine" ($11 million), did even one among the new breed of female executives dare to whisper in the ladies room of that upscale industry watering hole, the Ivy: "Nix the guy pix. And bring back the women?"

George Clooney and Brad Pitt smaller film flops don't get the same scrutiny because they still make the bigger films like the Ocean's trilogy that bring in the bucks. Women don't have the same opportunities so their failures get scrutinized differently.

I wish I were as optimistic as Rosen that the successes this summer will lead to change.

Could It Be? Did Hollywood Execs Get The Memo?