Chick flicks are a dying breed of cinema. Every year we have less and less movies about women, and not just romantic comedies, but any kind of movie that specifically targets the female audience that isn’t in a training bra. Chick flicks, whether comedy or not, are rarely being made these days, and not because they don’t make money – they do, and a lot – but because Hollywood simply prefers to make movies about men. Men in space, men in costumes, men in cars, men with guns, and, oh yeah, men with giant hammers.
This article is not to bash movies targeted at men. We like those movies. As a matter of fact, we praise Hollywood for the great job it’s been doing lately. 2013 has been a great year for cinema. Most of the movies we’re seeing in theaters are both entertaining and substantial. The problem is that women aren’t being represented anywhere in these great films. It’s gotten so bad that not only do we not have any memorable new chick flicks, but women are barely even seen on the big screen.
This year we had less than 10 wide-release movies that were specifically marketed to adult women, or in simple terms, chick flicks. There was Safe Haven, The Big Wedding, Admission, I Give It A Year, Tyler Perry’s Temptation, Tyler Perry Presents Peeples, About Time, and The Heat, starring America’s sweetheart, Sandra Bullock, and the hilarious Melissa McCarthy. There were a few other movies, like Frances Ha, In A World and Afternoon Delight, but those three barely made it into theaters so throwing them in the mix wouldn’t really be fair.
So, with those flicks in mind, let’s go over Hollywood’s absurd theory that people (as in men and women) don’t like to pay money to see movies about women.
During the summer, Jezebel‘s Madeleine Davies attempted to figure out why Hollywood isn’t making movies about women, even though there’s an audience for them. She wrote:
“The usual defense about this crazy gender imbalance is that people won’t pay money to see movies about women, but this has been proven time and time again to be untrue. People love to watch movies about women and will fork over big bucks to do it. Remember, Bridesmaids didn’t flop and neither did Brave, The Hunger Games, or Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
When Bridesmaids hit theaters in 2011 it seemed like everything was going to change for women. Here was a chick flick that was absolutely hilarious and also proved to be a huge money maker. It became Judd Apatow‘s highest-grossing production, making over $200 million worldwide. People called it a chick flick for men, and the female version of The Hangover. And for a while it seemed like this movie was going to change the game, like it might save the chick flick, nothing happened. No sequel. No nothing.
Cut to two years later, and we get The Heat. This summer movie – which by the way was the only chick flick this summer – had an opening of $40 million. It opened the same weekend that Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx‘s big-budget action movie White House Down opened, and it topped it by a bunch. But despite the success of these movies, and others not mentioned, Hollywood still thinks it’s too risky to make chick flicks like these.
Before you say it, we’ll be the first to admit that not all recent chick flicks are making a ton of money. The Heat, The Help and Bridesmaids are some of the few exceptions. And the reason for that is that a lot of them do suck, especially the romantic comedies. But whose fault is that?
Mindy Kaling, who currently has her own hit show on Fox, wrote a piece for The New Yorker some years ago called “Flick Chicks,” which was sort of a guide to women in movies. In her hilarious article, she mentions that she went to a meeting with some young executives and pitched them an idea to make a low-budget romantic comedy, but they completely rejected her idea and proposed a movie about a board game instead. (This is the kind of movie that studios think people want to see? And then they wonder why so many of their movies bomb when they get into theaters.)
Kaling writes that what she’d really like to write is a romantic comedy one day.
“This is my favorite kind of movie. I feel almost embarrassed revealing this, because the genre has been so degraded in the past twenty years that saying you like romantic comedies is essentially an admission of mild stupidity. But that has not stopped me from enjoying them.”
Yes, the rom-com genre is currently in the dump, and, as Kaling mentions, has been for like the past 20 years. But how is it that studios can’t make successful movies about women when they have talented ladies like Mindy Kaling, Lena Dunham, Tina Fey and Kristen Wiig at their service? Studio executive are so totally clueless about female audiences that chick flicks have now become chick-and-dude flicks, starring men! Oh the outrage! Women have been pushed out of their own genre by men!
Here’s a list of romantic movies with a male lead that hit or will hit theaters this year: Don Jon, Warm Bodies, The Great Gatsby, The Spectacular Now, Charlie Countryman, Her, A Case Of You and Are We Officially Dating?
The sad truth is that lady viewers have hardly ever had options at the movies, and these days, those options have shrunk to just about nothing.
NPR‘s Linda Holmes wrote an article a few months ago titled “At The Movies, The Women Are Gone,” where she made a starling discovery:
“If you want to go see a movie in the theater and see a current movie about a woman – any story about any woman that isn’t a documentary or a cartoon – you can’t.”
And that’s because there’s this “impenetrable wall of movies about dudes.”
“Dudes in capes, dudes in cars, dudes in space, dudes drinking, dudes smoking, dudes doing magic tricks, dudes being funny, dudes being dramatic, dudes flying through the air, dudes blowing up, dudes getting killed, dudes saving and kissing women and children, and dudes glowering at each other.”
The chick flick needs to be saved. Not because it’s a great genre, but due to the principle. Women need to be represented in movies as someone other than a helpless daughter, an inappropriate mom, or an angry wife. Making movies for women, about women, and heck, by women, isn’t a risk for Hollywood. These movies will make money, they just need to be made first.
What do you think? Should Hollywood revamp the chick flick?