Sunday, June 1, 2008

Women take over box office!

No, my baby-sitter-less weekend failed to deliver me to either Indiana Jones or Sex and the City--either of which I would have loved to have seen, mediocre reviews aside.

But I am cheered by the headline Variety just sent to my email Inbox: "Sex and the City whips Indiana." I'm far from the world's biggest SaTC fan (I like it and all but have no special devotion). But I was really ticked off by all of the press coverage the last couple of weeks about how SaTC would ever manage to do decent b.o. if men weren't going to see it. "Anticipation for Sex high, but will men see it?" kind of headlines.

The media industries have for too long trusted in the idea that women will see men's movies (girls will play with boys' toys, etc.) but that the reverse won't work. Glad to see those SaTC ladies prove them wrong.


Anonymous said...

Good point about all the press coverage for SaTC. It kind of stole the spotlight of Indian Jones (which I would rather see any day of the week.) Well if you still don't have the time to get to the movie theater, Lifetime's hit series Army Wives is back on TV this Sunday June 8th. :)

Jonathan said...

Yeah, I love how critics spuriously decide that a film will be hurt by being popular with women to the exclusion of many men. Because that strategy really hurt Titanic something fierce, right? :-)

tvfan said...

The press missed the boat: SATC doesn't need men. The women in my showing were in a state of near euphoria. The other men I saw reminded me of the forlorn guys you see waiting outside the womens' dressing areas at a department store. It's worth seeing, though.

jason sperb said...

Interesting point. I hadn't yet thought of the release in quite these terms (the assumption being that SATC's b.o. would be limited by its demographics). My students--admittedly all females--have been excited about this film for quite awhile, so I had no doubt the film would be #1. Will it have staying power? Will it prove to be more than the exception which proves the rule?

I never felt the film would not do extremely well, especially with IJ already having a weekend to itself (my wife has been planning for months to go see SATC w/ a HS friend--no, I did not go to see it with her. And she told me the next day, it was packed, but there was not a single guy in there). But I cannot help but thinking it will be largely a niche appeal--can it transcend to a larger audience?

What I think is being overlooked here is the question of "class." While it does appeal to women, it appeals to a very specific demographic of women.

What frustrates me when I teach SATC to students (as part of gender, TV and narrowcasting) is how many of my female students--hardcore devotees--think that the imaginary space the show offers is realistic. They do not see how most people--male and female--cannot relate to spending all day shopping in the city, eating out at nice restaurants, and generally walking the streets with Cold Stone in hand, chatting the day away.

My point is that you are right to suggest that the MSM defines blockbusters in heavily phallocentric terms (or at least makes that assumption--largely because men still control the industry itself). But I'm skeptical that SATC will be the event to disrupt those assumptions in the long term, unless it can appeal to a wider audience--defined by class, geographics, etc., and not just by gender.

Elana Levine said...

Thanks for all the comments. Jason, your point about class is a good one, although perhaps your students mean "realistic" not so much in terms of the women's lifestyles, but more in terms of the emotional dimension of their experiences. I think that lots of women find the characters' friendship to seem "real," as well as their problematic experiences with men, and their desire for fashion (if not the actual acquisition of it). Yet, surely you are right that there are limits to the class appeal of the film.

Also, regarding the actual audiences, I've heard anecdotally that the Saturday evening audiences were much more male/female balanced than the heavily female ones on Friday (opening night).

Whether this will have any long term impact on Hollywood-think is doubtful. Jonathan points out that the Titanic lesson seems to have been forgotten, so surely the SaTC one will soon be, as well.

jason sperb said...

Titanic is an interesting case, perhaps singular. I also think a lot of its box office appeal was due to the spectacle of James Cameron's 'hardware aesthetic' as well.

I agree that probably much of my students' sense of realism is affective, or otherwise non-representational (I think I could say that about any number of their particular fan attachments). I also feel that it partly was related to the fact that many of my students were from upper/upper-middle class families on the East Coast, which is not a demographic that fits every university of course.