May 31, 2008

FINALLY, Women Prove Their Box Office Potential

It's not often that women can say we bested all expectations and wild dreams of success for a Hollywood film, but this weekend we have spoken LOUDLY with our overwhelming support of Sex and the City. I was just looking back at the different pieces I've written and saw a post from May 6th when I pondered: can this be the biggest women's film ever? Answer: YUP.

Now I am not talking about your typical "chick flick" romantic comedy here. I am talking about a movie that stars a WOMAN (or several women) and is told from her (or their) perspective.

Here's what I said on May 6:

I've looked at the numbers of how other women's films have opened and I really think this movie can break the records. I think that the film (depending on how many screens it opens on) can open with 50 m. Sex and the City: Will it be the Biggest Women's Movie Ever?
I put that number out there tentatively and no one took me seriously. But I trust women and know (from the folks that read and comment on this blog) that there is a deep desire to see movies that reflect our realities and lives (even if it is in clothes and shoes we would never wear).

But I was wrong. I even underestimated the numbers. SATC kicked Indiana Jones' ass and made almost $27 million on its opening day, which is the same amount that The Devil Wears Prada made in its opening weekend! The box office idiots (they are now officially idiots for their stupidity in underestimating women) are saying that SATC will be #1 for the weekend and could make as much as $70-$75 MILLION for the weekend. "Sex" too hot for Indiana Jones at box office (Reuters)

I am proud to report that my pieces this from this week keep getting picked up around the internet and are inspiring discussions about women actually in films instead of our constant lament about the lack of women in films. Check out my picks ups:

From Lip-sticking, Marketing to women:
Melissa Silverstein has a fabulous site that follows the ups and downs and ins and outs of the movie biz and how women fit into the mix. Her blog, Women and Hollywood, gives a "feminist perspective" on the Hollywood scene - with commentary well worth your time.
Women and Hollywood: My Take on Sex and the City

From Women in Media and News
Melissa Silverstein well points out the signficance of its blockbuster status as a woman-centered film on her provocative and always well researched blog on women, Hollywood and feminism.
SATC’s moment

From Cinematical
Let's talk about Sex, baby ... I got an email from Melissa Silverstein over at Women and Hollywood yesterday, asking a pack of women who work in various aspects of the film industry to share our thoughts on whether a successful box office turn for Sex and the City, which opens this weekend, might herald a change in Hollywood's attitude toward chick-centric movies.
Discuss: Will 'Sex and the City' Change Hollywood's View of Chick Flicks?

From Awards Daily

Sex and the City Soars - Take That, Haters

May 30, 2008

A 20 MILLION Dollar Day for Sex and the City

Besting all the Hollywood projections, Sex and the City is poised to rake in $20 million today, the most money ever made for a romantic comedy on opening day. Just to give you a sense of how good it is, The Devil Wears Prada made a little under $10 million on its opening day for a total of a little over $27 million for the weekend. In an even more shocking turn, some people are saying that is could BEAT Indiana Jones for the weekend crown.

But these girls just can't catch a break to enjoy one minute of success before the Hollywood nasties make it clear that no matter how successful a weekend it has, it just doesn't matter. Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo said to Reuters: "Because the marketing is preaching to the converted, one wonders whether it will have legs beyond the opening." Legs beyond opening? Isn't Hollywood only fixated on opening weekend? It's the reality nowadays that most movies have huge hype, big opening weekends, and then drop off at least 50% or more on the second weekend. I for one believe that while women turned out in force for the opening, there will still be others who will go next weekend after the crowds abate.

So the double standard rears its ugly head and the rules for success get changed again. Why is it so hard to accept that a film for women could be successful?

Others have said that the box office will drop off after Friday's opening. I don't think so. Fandango is reporting that it was selling tickets 7 tickets per SECOND on Friday and more than 1,000 showings are expected to sell out over the weekend. I had a report from LA that a midday screening was sold out and women were taking pictures of each at the theatre. A report came in from Columbus, Ohio that a midnight screening last night was sold out, and I stopped by a theatre in Brooklyn, NY tonight and it was packed with a diverse group of women (and some men) and there was a lot of laughter during the film and a huge round of applause at the end.

Here's another brilliant comment from a studio marketing exec as told to Deadline Hollywood "This is the wildest, most abnormal, movie of all time," Nice. I really find it hard to believe that this movie about four women looking for love is the wildest, most abnormal movie of all time. Come on. More horse manure. Is this film wilder than say pirates looking for treasure in the Caribbean in a ship of ghosts? Or a young man who gets bitten by a spider and develops powers to crawl and fly across the sky on spider webs to save people? Maybe the person means abnormal because the film stars women and not special effects or a comic book character. I find that comment truly offensive.

But just when I start to feel down, the good news is that this blog is starting to get around in a big way and we (all of us and thanks you commenters) are we are all injecting some new and different thoughts into a much needed conversation. I want to give a shout out to Simon Vozick-Levinson over at EW for following up on my story early this week and asking the question: Is there a double standard for 'Sex and the City'?

Huffington Post columnist Melissa Silverstein wrote a great column about this yesterday. Last year's Wild Hogs, she noted, was correctly seen as mass-appeal entertainment for moviegoers of all genders, even though it was all about four aging guys. And do you remember anyone ever wringing their hands over whether traditionally "male" action flicks like Transformers could get women into multiplexes?
Defamer also gives us a mention in its weekend box office roundup: We've heard Sex and the City referred to as everything from a "women's cultural moment" (that's me) to "plow donkeys wearing lipstick," (not me) a fantastically diverse spectrum of hype that reflects a true phenomenon — if not necessarily guaranteeing a box-office windfall.
More to come

A Women's Cultural Moment

Whatever your thoughts are on the actual content of Sex and the City, as a follower of movies about women I can't help but acknowledge that this is a cultural watershed moment for women's films for a couple of reasons.

  1. Everyone (who talks about movies) has spent the last couple of weeks talking about a film that stars and celebrates women and women's friendships. Indiana Jones is so yesterday's news one week after being released after an almost 20 YEAR WAIT!
  2. Everyone (who talks about movies) is scratching their heads trying to figure out how much money an R rated movie targeted at adult women can make. Imagine women preoccupying the minds of Hollywood's men.
  3. The male misogynists in the film blogosphere have outed themselves in a big way with their extreme nastiness about the film with one actually calling the film a Taliban recruitment film.
  4. This film has sold out almost 800 shows for this weekend.
Harry Medved of Fandango has been watching these screenings sellout all week and told me:
"It's unusual for a female driven movie to inspire so much fan anticipation. You would usually associate sold out shows with a comic book movie or a sequel to a summer tentpole. Clearly there is an audience for adult female driven pictures and many observers are hoping that Hollywood will make more of them. We haven't seen anything like this before.
I am tired of hearing myself talk about this so I asked women who work in a variety of areas of the business (writers, bloggers, producers, directors and many others) to comment on this moment and what it might mean for the future for films about women. (Some of the women chose to be anonymous to protect themselves and their jobs.)

Here are the questions I posed:
  • If it's a success do you think that this will change Hollywood minds about whether women can "open" movies?
  • If it doesn't do the predicted numbers, do you think this will spell more difficulties for women centric films?
  • Do you think that because this is an "event" that other films about women will be held up to an unrealistic standard?
  • Do you think there is a double standard for this film?
  • Are you surprised by the nasty tone that some of the media has taken on this week?
The answers (some answered the questions, other gave their general thoughts- names appear AFTER the quotes):
I think that the discussion about whether women can open movies is multi-faceted and has little to do with this one film. It has as much to to, generally, with the scripts that are out there with strong female lead roles, and the gender role Hollywood, and, by extension, the movie-going public, expect women to play. Bottom line: Hollywood, and a big chunk of those who spend their dollars at the box office, still prefer to see women in supporting roles. The Queen, which had one of the best female lead roles in recent history, did just over $56 million domestically, and that was largely on the coattails of an Oscar push and savvy marketing. Men don't go to see an Angelina Jolie film because they're interested in her strong portrayal of a female character; if they did, A Mighty Heart wouldn't have tanked. They go to see Angelina Jolie because she's hot. Sadly, I don't see that changing anytime soon.

The paradox is, that yes, if the movie doesn't hit the expected numbers, male Hollywood will latch onto that as further proof of women's inability to open at the box office. But don't expect the reverse to be true.

I think other films about women are already held to an unrealistic standard, and this won't change that one way or the other. JUNO was an anomaly because it appealed to a broader cross-section, especially the teen market. But generally, a film about women has to have a driving component that males are interested in, ala KNOCKED UP, to reach that market and those dollars. Really, it's largely about the differences between men and women on a societal gender level. Women talk about their feelings, and women's films tend to be talky and to deal with issues men either don't care about, or don't care to face. Infidelity, unplanned pregnancy, relationships -- unless it's couched in a comedic element or shit being blown up, men just don't want to see that.

After the way Diablo Cody was attacked on the male-dominated sites? Not hardly.
Kim Voynar, Managing Editor, Cinematical

Of course I want the film to open HUGE this weekend, but the hoopla has really disturbed me in that it seems to celebrate everything we so need to get beyond. I feel the whole sales pitch for this movie has been to use women to sell what they're always expected to sell -- clothes, accessories, sex, neediness.

Believe me, I love these women in their (almost) diversity, but I feel that even if it's a huge success, it will be because it's an event and NOT really a movie and if it falls short it will be all our fault.

NO one will be willing to objectively respect the grosses for perhaps reflecting the actual appeal or worthiness of the movie.

And by the way, can we do SOMETHING about that horrific label "chick flick". Besides being demeaning, it is also dismissive, undignified, and disgusting. And you can certainly quote me on that.

And women shouldn't dignify the work by using it at all. --
Rosilyn Heller, producer, Trade

I think that Sex and the City will do well, and that it really should be another example of the obvious, that if films are made that really speak to women, women will come out and see the films.

Obviously, because of the success of the TV show, this is an "event" film. But the TV show was successful because it spoke to women.

Unfortunately, the Hollywood money machine seems to always find a way to dismiss successful women's films as anomalies, and I fear that will happen with Sex and the City as well.

But one hopes that slowly it will become clear that films that have meaningful women characters and themes that are important to women are often very successful.
Terry Lawler, Executive Director, New York Women in Film and TV

When women open movies anymore no one in the press seems to pay much attention. When Tina Fey and Amy Pohler opened Baby Mama it was just kind of glossed over. I think that if the film opens well they might consider the female demographic slightly more worthy of catering to, much they like they must begrudgingly admit that African-American audiences can really rake in the bucks.

It's possible. They have more than just being female, though, to contend with - they also are over 40 and not the kind of women the target demographic necessarily lusts after. This is why many of the male-dominated film sites aren't giving much attention to the film other than to bray about how unattractive the women are. If it doesn't make money it will confirm the worst - that even a movie version of a popular TV series can't overcome the general reluctance by audiences to watch films that are about women.

The event part is what is going to bring in the numbers.

Only in as much that there are so many movies about men who fumble through life and have dating and career woes. No one says a thing. What people seem to be responding to in a negative way is the "sex" part. There is something odd and intimidating about older women on the prowl. It was okay on TV, and they were a lot younger. Male viewers have been trained to respond only to hot, young things -- at least here in America that's true. It doesn't seem to be as true in Europe. The other thing is that there is a sense that these women are just collecting a paycheck and thus, they're to be disregarded as anything other than desperate money-grubbers.

Surprised and not surprised. Many of the fanboy movie coverage sites are so sexist they're intolerable. It is no wonder that the main criticisms of the film had to do with the way the women looked. On the flipside, women who write about film probably don't really want to be known as women so much as writers who accurately report on the industry.
Sasha Stone, Awards Daily

I think Hollywood will spin it as a chick flick. Not as proof that women can "open" movies. Pessimistic? Yes. Realistic? Probably also yes.

Until Hollywood reflects more women across the board, as executives, directors, producers, writers, vfx supervisors, production designers, etc. and I'm talking MUCH more than presently, I doubt it will be any different. I haven't seen evidence of ability to rise above the 13year old male as a common denominator in my many years here. I'm very sad to say this, but it's what I've seen.

I think anything can and will be used against making movies that aren't (easily and universally - read young male demographic) saleable. Or simply that the arguer doesn't like/want to make. Personal preferences play strong roles but more than anything, Money talks in Hollywood, especially since Hollywood now has to justify itself more and more to corporate America. Studios in particular are weaker than ever given the state of the business. Independent investors and alternate funding sources are the ones to watch in terms of innovation whether it be regarding women or minorities of any flavor. Or anything remotely alternative really.

I'm not sure about double standards actually, but I would not be surprised at any nasty tones thought I'm not sure which ones you're talking about. it is a chick flick, is it not? "chick lit" being an easy way to diminish women writers (not to mention the possible universality of female experience) across the board categorically, why not wield the same sort of weapon against potential film in-roads as well...I'm bitter, it's true.

Of course I only read variety a bit and the nytimes and latimes reviews, of which the nyt was dreck I thought the latimes article was nicely even handed, taking the good and bad into account and weighing it thoughtfully...bad girl Manohla!
VFX Supervisor

All I can really say is that although I may be one member of the media who has taken on a "nasty tone" in regards to SatC (and not just this week, but for the past two months since New Line started seriously inundating us with tie ins and overblown hype), I think $30 million is a conservative estimate. Chris Thilk at Movie Marketing Madness made an interesting comment today about how this is quite possibly the only film in the history of cinema that's been so blatantly targeted at one gender at the exclusion of the other (and possibly dangerously so––has any money or effort been spent to convince gay men that the elements of the show to which they responded will be incorporated into the version on the big screen?) Basically, if this movie *can't* make $30 million, the studios shouldn't waste their time making films specifically for women––it'll be proof positive that, at least as far as summer blockbusters go, the ol' four quadrant theory is better (and safer) business.
Karina Longworth, Spoutblog

If the film does as well as expected, the 'powers that be,' i.e. the studios, will come up with an excuse for it's success, once again calling it a 'fluke' and claim that it's success won't necessarily be repeated by another film starring women. In actuality, Sex & The City was a very successful cable show... went into syndication and found an entirely new audience of millions. So the timing couldn't be better.

I'm thrilled with the passion that women have shown for this film and their plan to see it on opening weekend. It can only be positive for 'the girls,' but don't get too excited and assume that they'll rush to make another 'chick flick' with women over 30 in the very near future. Sorry to be so cynical....
Producer of some of the biggest female centric films

I think it's FANTASTIC that there is a woman's event movie. I hope Sex & The City opens huge. No matter how it does the first weekend, I think it can only bode well for women in Hollywood. I'm confident that it will do enough business given the pre-sales to be the biggest "chick flik" opening ever! (Sorry, I know you hate that term but I've accepted it as the pop culture moniker for women movies.) Perhaps then our female executives in Hollywood would be brave enough to push for more female event movies. Women love to do things together, and I'm hoping that this film will be the proof necessary for studio execs to greenlight more female event movies. But, please, let women writers and directors have a bigger slice of the "chick flik pie." I'm also hoping that S&TC will hang out in theaters as long as "Greek Wedding" did to illustrate to studios that female-driven films build through word of mouth and opening weekends are less meaningful to women. Our purchasing behavior is absolutely different than those of boys and young men. It's worth investing in women. That's the bottom line that Hollywood needs to understand, and that's the message women must send to Hollywood.
Fay Ann Lee, director, Falling for Grace

The point here is: can women open movies? Meryl Streep can't. Jodie Joster can't. Julianne Moore can't. Julia Roberts can't. So, if this opens big, it's perhaps more on the model of Knocked Up -- the success of ensemble comedies.

I think the numbers will be phenomenal.

Possibly, because in general the people holding the films up are men, or women forced to think like them. The more women make films -- produce, write, direct -- for an audience they know exists, the better we'll all be.

No, in part because it was always a cult favorite, even if that cult was large and profitable. But now it faces the mainstream, mostly male, cultural critics. What would John Simon have written about the HBO series?
Thelma Adams, Film and DVD Critic, Us Weekly

I don’t put much stock in the success of any female-driven film changing the ossified Hollywood mindset. If SATC succeeds, as I think it will, the conventional wisdom will be that it worked because it was an adaptation of a popular cable show.

Could it be any more difficult for women-centric films?

The Hollywood films that are mass-marketed have heroes, not heroines. So, yeah.

The New York media is out of synch with the rest of the country on this one acting as though frivolity is unseemly after 9/11. Me thinks New Yorkers are peeved that SATC premiered in London rather then Manhattan. Even Mayor Bloomberg has been peevish about being cut from the film. The personal attacks on Sarah Jessica Parker’s not being conventionally beautiful are creepy. Why is it OK to be unconventional if you’re a guy (Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford, Will Smith) but not a gal?
Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer film critic, Flickgrrl

As for my thoughts on the film - it's just like the show. If you liked the show, you'll like the movie. I really don't get the fashion stuff (most of the clothes and especially the shoes seem so uncomfortable) but underneath all the superficiality the issues the film addresses especially about how women still need to be married to feel safe and the many difficulties in sustaining different kinds of relationships are right on the money. I happen to like and respect Sarah Jessica Parker and this film is a also a celebration of a hard working woman's career. I remember her from Annie and Square Pegs, how she endured the Robert Downey, Jr. drug years and of course my favorite, Footloose.

The film goes far to show that you can be glamorous and sexual at at 50 - one of my favorite moments was Samantha's 50th birthday dinner. I'm not going to pretend that the film is for everyone and it's not an overtly feminist film. But I can't help but think that the girl power this film is engendering will go a lot further than a feminist film that doesn't get seen by the masses.

Another Female Law Enforcement Agent Joins the TV Ranks

Now that the season finale of Lost is over and our shortened TV season is just a memory, it's time to start thinking about the shows coming up this summer. Now we all remember that TV used to suck in the summer, but cable has been smart and realized that people still want to see new shows all year round, so we have some great summer shows.

Women, especially women in law enforcement, highlight the lineup on TNT which will be back in the coming weeks, and over on Lifetime Army Wives will start its second season on June 8.

This week is the premiere of In Plain Sight on USA starring Mary McCormack (remember her from the last couple of seasons on The West Wing, she's also starring on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony for her role in Boeing Boeing) as a marshal protecting a variety of people in the Witness Protection program. Her character follows in the footsteps of the quirky Kyra Sedgwick from The Closer and the wild and intense Holly Hunter from Saving Grace. She is tough, caring, smart, witty, carries a gun and doesn't hesitate to whip a bar of soap at a naked guy who she is questioning in a bathroom. Rounding out the cast are Frederick Weller as her partner, Cristián de la Fuente (recently from Dancing with the Stars) as her on-again off-again boyfriend, and the hysterical Lesley Ann Warren as her live-in slacker mom with a great sex life.

I love the fact that cable gives us these wonderfully rich female characters. I've added In Plain Sight to my Tivo list for the summer.

USA's Senior Vice President, Original Scripted Series Programming Jackie de Crinis helped develop the show and answered some questions from Women & Hollywood about the show.

Women & Hollywood: How did the concept for In Plain Sight come about?

Jackie de Crinis: The script actually came to us in turnaround from another network/studio. We liked the idea of a tough female lead character with a weak spot (i.e., her family and personal life).
W&H: What makes this show different from other shows?
JDC: There isn't another tough female lead/action show currently on the air right now. Also, there isn't a series that shares the premise of the Witness Protection Program (WITSEC) and all of it's complexities.
W&H: Why is cable such a welcoming place for strong female lead characters (over 40) especially in the law enforcement area?
JDC: Maybe because 40 is the new 30. Women are just starting to come into their own when they hit 40. It's the age of empowerment. Many women at 40 are just starting to hit their career strides and often managing families as well. Cable was the first to embrace and celebrate that.
W&H: I'm a big fan of Mary McCormack and excited that she is the lead of a series. What does Mary bring to this part that makes her unique?
JDC: Mary is adeptly delivers the dramatic tension with a sense of humor. She embodies a sexy- intelligent-take- no-prisoners kind of attitude that makes for great TV viewing.
W&H: As a senior level woman working in the TV business what advice would you give a young woman who wants to be in your business?
JDC: Read everything. Know what you like. Be fearless. Be thoughtful.
In Plain Sight premieres Sunday, June 1 at 10pm on USA

May 29, 2008

Where are the Women of Color?

This blog tries its best to bring attention to issues about women and Hollywood, yet the reality of Hollywood is that most of the news and stories I come across are about white women.

When I ran into a friend last week she said that she and her friends talk about the lack of opportunities for black women in film and asked me: where are the black women?

Good question.

It really made me think about the blog and its goals and I really want to do better at including more news about women of color to the blog (I would love to add more sites to explore- please send them my way.) The issue about the lack of opportunities for women of color in Hollywood is a complicated mix of racism and sexism among other things. Suffice it to say that women of color have a harder time than white women in Hollywood. My friend Fay made a light romantic comedy that starred an Asian woman and was told by potential distributors that it wasn't "universal." That's just crap. Her film is now entering its 7th week in Phoenix.

I found this story (that should have gotten bigger play) by Wesley Smith in the Boston Globe about the lack of opportunities for African Americans in film. He articulates the issue much better than I ever could.

Here are some of the great points he makes - please read the whole piece. (link is below)

When it comes to black America, the movies are stagnating. Well, when it comes to any nonwhite male subject matter at the movies, the pickings are slim. But there's such a wealth of black stars, producers, and directors that the scarcity of movies - big-ticket or small, serious or light - focused on the lives of black people, is surreal. There's a gaping entertainment void. It's not just the lack of quantity. It's the lack of variety. Despite the usual death notices posted for hip-hop, black popular music is alive and well.
At the moment, black movies come in two flavors: uplift dramas and Tyler Perry.

And Perry's success, through no fault of his own, limits what chances the studios are willing to take on black movies. Rickety ghetto comedies, prefab movie biographies, and feel-good historical dramas tailor-made for NAACP Image Award contention are one thing. But a serious, thoughtful act of filmmaking or some real Hollywood glamour is rare.

"Dreamgirls" was blindingly glamorous and was a big fat hit. And we haven't seen anything like it since. The next big part for the movie's Oscar's winner, Jennifer Hudson, is as Sarah Jessica Parker's assistant in the "Sex & the City" movie. "Dreamgirls" had its flaws, but I've almost never had as much fun watching a movie with an audience as I did the two times I watched it in a theater.

A Black Hole (Boston Globe)

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Jessica Lange

For speaking out against the war at her daughter's commencement at Sarah Lawrence college.

"We are living in an America that, in the last seven and a half years, has waged an unnecessary war, established prison camps, condoned torture, employed corporate armies, eliminated the right of habeas corpus, practiced extraordinary rendition, and believe me, this is only a partial list..."

May 28, 2008

The Double Standard

Sex and the City finally opens on Friday.

Honestly, I really can't wait for this to be over. We need for the movie to make at least $30 million (that's the prediction for the weekend) on opening weekend so that Hollywood will (maybe) finally (again) view women as a legit audience. Yet even as women are making their viewing plans for the weekend and beyond, leave it to the media to do its best to diminish any gains we might make by actually scaring off any guys by saying, in essence, that no guys are going to be caught dead in the theatres interested in seeing this (except of course, for all the gay guys.)

This is such a sexist double standard.

It makes me angry that it is all on women to make SATC a hit. No other film has that burden. As Philadelphia Inquirer Flickgrrl Carrie Rickey and said on her site last week: "Remember when movies -- and books -- were mass-marketed? When studios assumed that moviegoers were equally interested in Working Girl as Superman?"

No movie about men or starring men has ever had to deal with a headline like yesterday's AP story- Can Women Alone Make Sex and the City a Hit? or today's Variety story Sex sells, but will men see 'City?

Think about last year's hit film Wild Hogs. It was about four guys (including Tim Allen and John Travolta) on a middle age road trip. The film opened in March to $40 million, with over 53% of the audience male, and 65% over 25. Even though this was not a film targeted at women, women went to see it because the point is that no one gives you the impression that seeing a movie about four guys going through a mid-life crisis is not worthy of your time and your money.

Even though Sex and the City is going to be a hit what the media and the marketing has done here is to really divide the sexes. I don't blame New Line/Warner Brother for marketing the film this way. They need to make it big and they know that guys would rather not see the "so-called chick flick" so they are eliminating the guilt that women feel when dragging the guys to see these types of films by saying essentially, don't bother bringing him this time, leave him home with his friends and the kids. Give yourself the night out.

I just worry that this has clearly become more than just a movie -- it's an event -- and these types of events are very, very hard to replicate. And also, maybe because it's become such an event (and looking at the pipeline there are not too many others coming down the pike) it will be another excuse for Hollywood not to take women seriously.

But, then, on the other hand, I was heartened to read yesterday on Hollywood Wiretap that someone else has put in writing what I say consistently- that this film (and other films about women) might have some serious legs beyond opening weekend (I really hope someone will keep track)

Because Females 25 Plus are generally not the crowd that always rushes out to see a movie on opening weekend, "Sex and the City" is more likely to open very well and then hold even better in coming weeks. I am looking for at least $30 million on opening weekend, and with nothing particularly adult-skewing until Fox's "The Happening" on June 13, this movie, starring decidedly grown-up women, has a chance to join "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Hairspray" in the very exclusive $100 million Summer Chick Flick Blockbuster club.
Hollywood Wiretap

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Gabrielle Union

For being part of the Declare Yourself voter registration drive.

Sexism Sells, But We're Not Buying it

From the folks at the Women's Media Center (it's way too long and has some bizarre musical interludes, but you'll get the point)

More info:Women's Media Center

May 27, 2008

Report on Two Female Directed Films from Cannes

Here's some info on a couple of the women directed films that premiered at Cannes.

A Lesson in Perseverance
Jennifer Lynch (daughter of David) hasn't made a film in 15 years since that debacle that was Boxing Helena (if you don't remember it, that's ok.) Glad she didn't give up. Her new film Surveillance stars Julia Ormand and Bill Pullman as FBI agents investigating a crime in Nebraska.

Here's one question from her Hollywood reporter interview:


Lynch: I took a breather. It was very sad. It was not my cut of the film. And then there was the trial and all that insanity around it. It became an incredibly blown up thing. I spent some time working on a novel, because my other love is writing and telling stories, and I was busy producing and shooting commercials and stuff. Then I became pregnant, and raising a child on my own became my priority for a while. Because of a car accident, I also had to have three consecutive spinal surgeries. Throughout that I was always writing, because it helped to deal with the pain. I am sober and refused to take pain medications. The art of distraction is the art of parenting and pain management. Finally, I got back to the point where I could walk comfortably and my daughter was old enough, so I could go back to work.

Boxing Helena Director on the Combat Trail (AP via HR)
Director Jennifer Lynch reemerges with the thriller Surveillance. (LA Times)

The Press Ignore Class Issues
Salon critic Andrew O'Hehir is one of the most interesting film writers. He writes about many films that the throng of studio pleasing bloggers ignore. This is the first article I have read about this film coming out of Cannes.

He reports that Lucrecia Martel's new film The Headless Woman about class issues in Argentina received boos at its premiere and believes that the reception is because "people just didn't get what Martel was driving at, and that clearly bothered them."
On one hand, maybe people here didn't like "The Headless Woman" because it's a quiet, careful picture that lacks the sexual undertow of "The Holy Girl." On the other hand, maybe they just didn't understand it it because they almost literally couldn't see it. When I met Martel during a group interview session here, I suggested to her that there was a certain irony at work: A bunch of journalists from around the world, assembled in an elite resort town, can't understand a story about the invisibility of class privilege. (Properly speaking, that's not even irony. It's just a striking illustration of the film's point.)

Martel has enlisted herself in a different and less beloved tradition, the tradition of art as a deliberately provocative intellectual exercise designed to compel the viewer to face unpleasant facts about the world, or about himself.
Read the whole piece: Why the Cannes boo-birds are wrong (as usual) (Salon)

Hollywood Feminist of the Day: Karen Allen

"I was just glad that they were willing to hire a 56-year-old actor to play opposite [Harrison Ford]. Often somebody who's 35 will come in and be paired with an actor who's 65, and that usually aggravates me. . . . Often, I feel like it's unbelievable, too," she says. "I'm just not somebody who thinks that once you hit 40 you should be put out to pasture."
(Washington Post)

photo: Lisa Levart