Yesterday, my colleague Zachary Tallis posted an article announcing the release date of “Magic Mike XXL” next summer. It was short and, we thought, a fairly regular piece of news. But it quickly became a major success story, approaching 100,000 Facebook likes in its first 24 hours. Look a little closer, and the reason for its success is clear. Women (by a huge majority) are sharing the article on Facebook, often tagging their friends and looking forward to the date in question – some 15 months from now.
What does this tell us? With no disrespect to “Magic Mike XXL”, it reveals the sheer paucity of mainstream releases that the female audience has to anticipate. In terms of studio films being marketed primarily at women, what is there on offer this summer? “The Other Woman” is opening in April, ahead of the crowd. There are films with female leads like “Maleficent”, “Sex Tape” and “Tammy” that don’t seem to be courting a female audience in particular. There’s the odd rom-com like “Blended” with Drew Barrymore, and young adult slush like “The Fault in Our Stars”. And there’s better choice from the indie studios for sure. But in terms of the multiplexes, the selection is pitiful. And none of these films are directed by women.
Of course, many women enjoy films not marketed specifically at them – personally I can’t wait for “22 Jump Street” and I’m tentatively hopefully for “Jupiter Ascending”. But aside from Lana Wachowski, isn’t it bizarre and outrageous that there simply isn’t an industry of women producing entertainment for women? Compare it to the number of summer beachside novels that fit that description, and the movie scene seems dire and depressing.
I’ll be watching “Magic Mike XXL”, and I guess I’m mildly looking forward to it. But a sequel to a film made by and about men? I just wish there was more to get excited about before then.