Saturday, October 3, 2009

Whip It opens to just $1.5 million. Why it's distressing.


As they say, if you don't vote, you can't complain. Whip It apparently made just $1.5 million last night (it really is the That Thing You Do of 2009). If women at large cannot bother to support a purely mainstream and commercial entertainment that is also a good, genuinely feminist movie, then they deserve to have nothing aimed at them except more variations of Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl starring in "I'm Nothing Without A Man". This is the same as parents complaining about quality family movies and then ignoring The Iron Giant. It's the same as horror nerds complaining about remakes and reboots, yet ignoring Drag Me To Hell and Jennifer's Body*. You want to enjoy the trash, fine. Goodness knows I'll be there for the A Nightmare On Elm Street remake on opening weekend despite my better judgment. And I'm more than willing to sit through G-Force or Alvin and the Chipmunks 2 if my daughter will enjoy them. But when you ignore the commercial, mainstream entertainment that is actually good or original, then you signal to execs that their laziness is actually a preferred strategy. Reap what you sow, alas.

Scott Mendelson

* As for horror fans, thanks for supporting Zombieland. It did about $9 million last night and will be number 01 for the weekend with around $25 million.

13 comments:

Glenn Dunks said...

Here here! Such a shame for Drew. I hope she doesn't let this discourage her.

However, I don't think there are that many women that complain about the Aniston/Heigl movies you mention. A lot of women legitimately like them! I don't think it's a problem that they do, but it is disappointing that they didn't see this one too.

As in, I'm sure plenty of people who went and saw Transformers 2 and liked it also went and saw actual good movies too. Ya know?

eeh, it's 1.30am here and I can't think properly.

Alex F. said...

I saw it in Pasadena yesterday afternoon there was a scattering of mainly tweens and younger teen girls. Some parents. They loved it. Their cheers gave it away.

It really is too bad. It's a solid movie. Very charming.

Then again, you don't think this was kind of a dump by Fox Searchlight? Only 1700 theaters? And not much of a marketing campaign?

thingsonfilm said...

Why are women to blame? Where are the men that should *also* be supporting this movie? I'm not sure I appreciate your reasoning here.

FilthyGrandeur said...

i'm with thingsonfilm. maybe it just doesn't appeal to some women. or maybe, despite the good reviews, it hasn't been marketed enough. it's not that we're not interested in films that are feminist / positve, but we don't need some man speaking for us or for our preference in movies.

Scott Mendelson said...

It's not a matter of blame. It just means that we can't complain that so many female driven movies are just romantic comedies and/or wedding porn but then ignore something that tries to break out of that shell.

As far as 'a man telling you what your preferences will be', that's a fair point. So let me just say this. If you like fun, entertaining movies or you like strongly feminist movies that aren't sledgehammer-ish about it, by all means seek out Whip It while its still in theaters.

FilthyGrandeur said...

one feminist movie hardly makes up for an entire industry built on sexism and misogyny. there's a clear lack of promotion for this movie (i have only read about it on feminist sites, and if women aren't reading those, then well...that's not very effective). what you're basically saying is "hey, here's a movie about women doing stuff, and you're all women, so go see it" despite, hey, maybe some women aren't into roller derby. what would be nice is if positive female characters existed as a norm, not as the exception in this one movie.

Scott Mendelson said...

You're right about the lack of promotion, and I hadn't even realized until this morning that it was only on 1700 screens. I'm kinda shocked by that, as Fox Searchlight of course gave it a national sneak preview (which is a rare thing in this day and age). And frankly, when it comes to genre and/or offbeat character pieces, Fox Searchlight is usually pretty solid about making sure they find and audience.

You're right that I'm implicitly saying that women should see this movie out of some kind of obligation (and in fact it contradicts stuff I've written elsewhere on the subject), and you're right that it's an unfair request in the broad scheme of things (why is it that the random rants that I toss out on my wife's laptop while my daughter is eating breakfast often get more attention than the stuff I put effort into?). Right or wrong (emphasis on wrong), execs are going to look at this performance and use it as precedence when deciding whether to green light female-driven films that are outside the safety zone of romantic comedies. It sucks that there aren't more movies like this as a matter of course. But this one tanking is just going to make it harder next time.

I admit my hypocrisy, but I still fear that the failure of Whip It will have devastating longterm implications on the careers of female filmmakers and/or female films that don't involve getting the guy in the last ten minutes.

Anonymous said...

Julie & Julia is an example of a female-centric flick that's NOT a rom-com that has done exceptionally well at the box office. Let's hope Hollywood looks to this great movie's success to support other non rom-com movies for women.

FilthyGrandeur said...

i totally get what you're saying. i was actually having a conversation with someone about video games marketed towards women and girls earlier today, and it sort of relates. we were talking about how the gaming industry will crank out "girl" games which obviously are lacking in quality, and when women don't buy them they see that as "well, why make more" when really they could just do more to engage a whole demographic they've been ignoring.

and yeah, i think that if this movie flops that's just going to reaffirm false assumptions about women's spending habits.

i'm actually really surprised by the lack of marketing on this one--isn't this Drew Barrymore's directorial debut?

(also sorry if i came off as drive-by trolling--i found this link on a different thread and thought i'd give it a read)

FilthyGrandeur said...

i totally get what you're saying. i was actually having a conversation with someone about video games marketed towards women and girls earlier today, and it sort of relates. we were talking about how the gaming industry will crank out "girl" games which obviously are lacking in quality, and when women don't buy them they see that as "well, why make more" when really they could just do more to engage a whole demographic they've been ignoring.

and yeah, i think that if this movie flops that's just going to reaffirm false assumptions about women's spending habits.

i'm actually really surprised by the lack of marketing on this one--isn't this Drew Barrymore's directorial debut?

(also sorry if i came off as drive-by trolling--i found this link on a different thread and thought i'd give it a read)

FilthyGrandeur said...

i'm with thingsonfilm. maybe it just doesn't appeal to some women. or maybe, despite the good reviews, it hasn't been marketed enough. it's not that we're not interested in films that are feminist / positve, but we don't need some man speaking for us or for our preference in movies.

thingsonfilm said...

Why are women to blame? Where are the men that should *also* be supporting this movie? I'm not sure I appreciate your reasoning here.

Scott Mendelson said...

You're right about the lack of promotion, and I hadn't even realized until this morning that it was only on 1700 screens. I'm kinda shocked by that, as Fox Searchlight of course gave it a national sneak preview (which is a rare thing in this day and age). And frankly, when it comes to genre and/or offbeat character pieces, Fox Searchlight is usually pretty solid about making sure they find and audience.

You're right that I'm implicitly saying that women should see this movie out of some kind of obligation (and in fact it contradicts stuff I've written elsewhere on the subject), and you're right that it's an unfair request in the broad scheme of things (why is it that the random rants that I toss out on my wife's laptop while my daughter is eating breakfast often get more attention than the stuff I put effort into?). Right or wrong (emphasis on wrong), execs are going to look at this performance and use it as precedence when deciding whether to green light female-driven films that are outside the safety zone of romantic comedies. It sucks that there aren't more movies like this as a matter of course. But this one tanking is just going to make it harder next time.

I admit my hypocrisy, but I still fear that the failure of Whip It will have devastating longterm implications on the careers of female filmmakers and/or female films that don't involve getting the guy in the last ten minutes.

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