Are superhero movies the only thing keeping young men going to the movies? Or are they doomed to soon crash and burn out? That and more are covered in this NYT piece on on how female fare is dominating 2015’s box office. Insurgent (above), Cinderella and Fifty Shades of Grey have all been hits this year, while male focused films have mostly flopped. (One exception, The Kingsmen based on a you-know-what by Mark Millar, one of Hollywood’s most reliable creators.) But other factors are at play including the numbing prevalence of endless special effects and male distraction by video games:
Young men used to be Hollywood’s most reliable audience, in part because they tended to be less discriminating than women. “No story? No problem! As long as people got blown up, guys showed up,” Mr. Dergarabedian said.
But studio research executives say young men are the most likely to be lured by alternative activities like video games, sports and YouTube comedy clips. Research indicates that teenage boys in particular do not want to be told when and where they have to consume entertainment, which makes herding them into a movie theater difficult.
In contrast, “teenage girls still seem to want the experience of going to the movies as a group,” said Terry Press, president of CBS Films, which recently hit specialty film pay dirt with “The DUFF,” an $8 million comedy about a high school pecking order that is closing in on $35 million in ticket sales, overwhelmingly because of female moviegoers.
One movie analyst suggests that stories that make you laugh and cry may be making a comeback, while another says that “The clout and importance of the female audience has never been bigger.”
While this may cast a bit of a pall over the 30 superhero movies coming at us in the next five or six years, most of Marvel’s incredible popular films do have compelling characters and strong emotional beats at their core. Thor: The Dark World had a very weak story, but the Thor/Loki relationship (and to a lesser extent Thor/Jane) were front and center. WB definitely needs to establish this kind of rapport to get its ambitious movie slate off the ground, but things like Steve Trevor showing up in Suicide Squad show they’ve been paying attention.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.