November 13, 2008

Twilight Mania

It's 10 days to the opening of Twilight and while Summit (the studio releasing the film) is trying to tamp down opening weekend expectations, it looks like its going to be a good weekend for the vampire romance. I think that it will do better than expected and hit at least $30 million (the budget for the film is only $37 million).

The mania is everywhere from canceled cast appearances because too many screaming girls showed up, to last summer's freak out among geek girls at Comic-con, to earning the cover on Entertainment Weekly.

The exciting thing is that is continues the trend of a great year for women at the box office, in so many ways. This film has women power all over it:
The novel is written by a woman: Stephenie Meyer
The screenplay is written by a woman: Melissa Rosenberg
The producer- Karen Rosenfelt is a woman
The director is a woman: Catherine Hardwicke
AND- the lead is a woman: Kristen Stewart

The numbers on Twilight skew heavily female and that's what makes studios nervous because studios believe that women can't be relied out to come out on opening weekend. But young women can and do. According to the MPAA data, in 2006 girls 12-24 paid $273 compared with their male counterparts $260 million. In 2007, that number reversed with young women buying $246 million compared with boys' $296 million. Even though the number of admission declined among young women in 2007, it still is higher than any other age group.

We all know that women of all ages helped open Sex and the City to huge numbers without pretty much any guys, and while this film skews younger and because of the sci-fi elements and action, I would think that guys could be convinced. But I could be wrong and when talking about the film to a 25 year old friend yesterday (who already has her ticket for opening weekend) she emphasized that it is all about the romance.

Also, when I did my panel two weeks ago at Women in Film all the women film bloggers were so excited to see the film and commented about how male film bloggers had not been interested in it at all. I can't believe we live in a world where guys still won't go see films about women even though they look cool and different. Pathetic. We all see movies with guys as leads without a moment of hesitation.

The film is doing well in advanced sales on Fandango with over 100 shows sold out as of last Friday. Some totally unscientific data from Fandango (2500 self selected, 96% women) shows us that people who responded see most of the big mainstream films like The Dark Knight and Indiana Jones, but 63% said they don't usually see a film on opening weekend.

But the thing about this film, like Sex and the City and Mamma Mia! is the built in fan base as Anne Thompson says in her recent piece in Variety.

Summit's main calling card is Meyer's phenomenal success among readers, with combined global sales among "Twilight's" four books at 17 million.

Since acquiring the film rights in turnaround from Paramount, Summit has carefully courted "Twilight's" core 13-24 femme crowd. In hiring director Catherine Hardwicke ("Thirteen") and scribe Melissa Rosenberg ("Step Up"), the studio is banking on two creatives who ostensibly know what young women want.
Vampire fare lures female viewers (Variety)
Twilight: Will the Movie Be a Hit? (EW)