ChickFlicking – Weekend Box Office: A Tale of Two Chick Flicks (Nadia Sandhu)

This was supposed to be a positive review of Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, but a funny thing happened on the way to posting. The first box office projections started coming in and I found myself enthralled by the widely diverging fates for Friend and Pixar’s Brave, the two big chick flick contenders this weekend.

The source of my fascination is a question that keeps popping into my head with each successive tent pole’s release – simply put, and pardon my language in advance, ‘WTF is going on at the marketing departments in Hollywood?’ It could be just me, but the campaigns this summer are looking increasingly slap dash and a little clueless even. This looks to be the case right across the board with films as divergent as Rock of Ages, Prometheus, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter,  Spider Man, and so on.

Both films this weekend had counter-intuitive marketing campaigns, and while things turned out great for Brave at $66.7 million domestic, the results were really dire for Friend which barely grossed $3.8 million for a tenth place finish.  Both campaigns decided it was best to hide the fact that ultimately, these were flicks for chicks.  The primary quadrants were definitely female here and I can’t help but wonder what suddenly gave Hollywood the idea that women of legal drinking age don’t go to see films, but there you have it.

Disney was very nervous about the first Pixar fairytale and the first Pixar film to feature a female lead. Disney of course has cause to worry – their past is littered with failed female princess vehicles like Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid…(yes, sarcasm is absolutely necessary here).  They went the warrior princess route with their campaign and the gamble paid off.  They got us into cinemas to see for ourselves, and the result was  both heartwarming and action packed enough to make up for the shock of the film we received versus what we were expecting.

For Friend, it was the weight of expectation that doomed it.  Audiences were set up for a comedy – and while this film does deal with the impending apocalypse with some levity (the asteroid is innocuously named Matilda after all), ultimately this is a film about relationships, regret, and the meaning of life.  This is most definitely a bittersweet relationship drama, and one that I actually found to be quite touching.  There is just no way that a sentimental romance like this can live up to the expectations of a screwball comedy-road movie as set up by marketing, and the damning word of mouth bears this out.  If you set the dinner for steak, you better produce a steak!

For what it’s worth, a completely unscientific exit poll of my film going companions post-Friend did reveal a definite fault line forming along gender lines.  Does this mean men were never going to see it, or could this have been the date movie of the weekend with a different approach?  We’ll never know for sure, and that is too bad.

It will be interesting to see the figures for Brave’s second week, now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag and the boys know what the movie is about.  I’m betting it won’t matter and expect to see a standard drop here, nothing disastrous.

Brave is sitting at 75% on Rotten Tomatoes, significantly lower than the average for a Pixar property ( which generally hover closer to 90%) and some are blaming the mother-daughter theme for the perceived shortfall.  Again, I can’t stress enough that if you set up a warrior princess story in the trailer, you can’t substitute will o’ the wisps, witches and bears and expect people not to be jarred.

In the meantime, I am simply breathless with anticipation for the results of the next bizarre tent pole campaign  (I’m looking at you Magic Mike).  Will it be a success?  I honestly can’t say, but the buzz is building nicely and I do think I owe it the Eye Candy treatment at the very least.

Now excuse me while I go ponder on the fact that I used Magic Mike and tent pole in the same sentence.

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ChickFlicking the Summer Away – Summer Movie Preview (Nadia Sandhu)

As I wade further into the world of ChickFlicking, it is becoming clear that “chick flick” is really a catchall term for several distinct but related genres. For the purposes of this preview a simple litmus test was employed – does the official synopsis mention a romantic relationship?  If the answer is yes, then that film is included here.

Ladies and Germs, these are the Chick Flicks of Summer 2012 (click links for trailers):

MAY 18


 

 

 

 

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (Alliance Films) – The Hangover with strollers and JLo?

MAY 25

Hysteria (Entertainment One) – This one’s all about the invention of the vibrator AND it’s a period piece.  I’m so there.

Jesus Henry Christ (Entertainment One) – A single mother, a sperm donor, a precocious 10-year-old boy and Toni Collette. Could this be another About a Boy?  Here’s hoping!

JUNE 1

Moonrise Kingdom (Entertainment One) – Are Wes Anderson films really chick flicks at heart? Those are musings for another post, but this particular film involves young love, so it qualifies here.

Snow White and the Huntsman (Universal Pictures) – Snow White has resided under the “flicks for chicks” column since the time of Uncle Walt, and while this darker retelling turns our princess into a warrior, it also gives us Kirsten Stewart as Snow and Liam Hemsworth as the Huntsman.  Women are definitely still the key market for this tale.

JUNE 8

Lola Versus (Fox Searchlight Pictures) – Mumblecore darling Greta Gerwig stars in this tale of a jilted bride who decides to take charge and reinvent her life on the verge of her thirtieth birthday. Classic chick flick material.

Bel Ami (Magnolia Pictures) – Robert Pattinson and an all-star cast of actresses lead by Uma Thurman make this period piece seem reminiscent of Dangerous Liaisons. Sign us up!

JUNE 15

Rock of Ages (Warner Bros. Pictures) – It’s a musical that features 80’s hair metal.  Incidentally, ladies in the 80’s were known to adore a certain Tom Cruise, who appears buff and shirtless here, and as an aging Rock God no less.

JUNE 22

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Entertainment One) – Steve Carrell and Kiera Knightley face the end of the world together.  Do romantic sparks fly as the end draws nigh?

Your Sister’s Sister (Mongrel Media) – Sisters Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt square off over the heart of a man who is trying to come to terms with the death of his brother. Sounds melodramatic but this one is labelled a comedy on tribute.ca

JUNE 29

Magic Mike (Warner Bros. Pictures) – This one is hitting its quadrants, no doubt about that, but with the promise of shirtless eye candy like Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Alex Pettyfer, Matt Bomer, and Joe Manganiello, and romantic complications against the back drop of a male strip club, this one will get its Chickflicking due.

Take This Waltz (Mongrel Media) – A steamy Toronto summer provides the backdrop for a love triangle between Seth Rogen, Michelle Williams, and Luke Kirby.

JULY 6

To Rome with Love (Mongrel Media) – Woody Allen follows up Midnight in Paris with four intersecting stories set in Rome.

JULY 20

Trishna (Mongrel Media) – Tess of the d’Urbervilles gets an update and a change of location to modern-day India. Freida Pinto stars in this doomed romance.

JULY 27

Step Up Revolution (Entertainment One) – Professional dancers, flash mobs with a message, and young love.

AUGUST 3

Celeste and Jesse Forever (Mongrel Media) – Can a recently divorced couple remain friends while pursuing new relationships? Andy Samberg and Rashida Jones find out in this “anti-rom com”.

AUGUST 10

Hope Springs (Columbia Pictures) – Meryl Streep, the titular Hope, decides to shake things up in her 30 year marriage to Tommy Lee Jones with the help of a relationship guru played by Steve Carrell.

AUGUST 15

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Walt Disney Pictures) – A happily married couple unexpectedly become parents when young Timothy shows up on their doorstep one night.  This one stars would be rom-com queen Jennifer Garner.

AUGUST 17

Sparkle (Columbia Pictures) – Jordin Sparks starts as a budding singer who must juggle romance, career and the disapproval of her mother in this coming of age story that also features Whitney Houston‘s last performance.

See you at the movies!

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