Maybe we can call this a bit of poetic justice but it looks like the big boys are floundering and the girls are on the rise. This weekend, the female targeted, yet not very feminist, Oz – The Great and Powerful was again number 1 at the box office. (I haven’t seen the movie but here are two pieces about the film. Why ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ Is A Major Step Back For Witches and Women and “Oz the Great and Powerful” Rekindles the Notion That Women Are Wicked.)
At number 2 came in The Call starring the Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin. It showed that Halle Berry can open a film, even if she hasn’t been on screen for a while. The film opened in 2,500 theatres and grossed $17 million with a budget of $13 million (according to box office mojo.) The marketing on this was pretty limited, but they specifically targeted women, and it seems to have worked since 61% of the tickets were purchased by women.
That film took down the Steve Carrell star vehicle The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (have you ever heard a worse title?) which opened on over 3,100 screens and only took in a little over $10 million.
Add that to the success of Spring Breakers which had the best limited release opening of the year and stars the former tween stars Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens looking to take their careers to a new level. The film took in a whopping $90,000 per screen average in its 3 locations. Just for a comparison Oz, The Great and Powerful took in a little over $10,000 per screen this past weekend. Clearly, these young women have fans waiting to see them.
And Melissa McCarthy was still in the top 5 with The Identity Thief.
While the movies mentioned above might not be your cup of tea, and some of them seem quite regressive and wouldn’t win any feminist awards (but they might pass the Bechdel Test), the good news is that there is a wide diversity of films to choose from that have female leads that might interest women. This helps the cause (of getting more films by and about women) because if the people who make decisions see that smaller movies that have female leads and are targeted at women do better than the bloated movies starring men, maybe they will green light more of these types of films.
Maybe the studios should heed the words of Paul Degarabedian, box office expert of Hollywood.com: “Studios should take note…there’s a lot of female power going on at the box office.”