<i>New Moon</i> Brings a New Dawn in Hollywood

While Hollywood felt comfortable dismissing, and even, there is no way that the numbers forcould be dismissed as a fluke.
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On Friday morning Hollywood woke up to the realization that fangirls
can be as rabid as fanboys. By Saturday morning they realized that two
BIG records had been broken, including the highest midnight screening
opening and the best opening date in history. On Sunday morning, they
woke up realizing that New Moon had not only shattered all
even optimistic expectations, it had coattails helping to fuel a big
and unexpectedly good weekend at the box office Entertainment Weekly wrote that: “this one of the most lopsidedly female-driven weekends in Hollywood history.”

Here are the numbers:

  • New Moon made $140 million dollars this weekend.
  • It made more on Friday than Twilight did it’s first weekend. That means the franchise is growing in strength.
  • New Moon has the third biggest opening weekend numbers.
  • Women accounted for 80% of the tickets buyers; and were divided evenly between women under and over 21.
  • The film also kicked butt overseas bringing in over $118 million overseas.
  • The film scored a high A- in exit polling done when people left the theatre.

TOTAL WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: $258 million for the weekend.

And while everybody expected New Moon to be big (but not
this big) what is more astounding to me is how well Sandra Bullock’s
movie did opening opposite the juggernaut. The film actually performed
way better than industry estimates which were at best $20 million and
it cements Bullock back as a powerhouse. The Blind Side topped her great opening this summer with The Proposal bringing in $33.6 million.

The film, more than New Moon, showed the power of women,
even the much maligned older woman. The film’s success was built on
59% female ticket buyers with 75% of them being over 25. If you
really think about it, it is older women who made this weekend a huge
success because 50% of the audience for New Moon were over 21, and 75% of The Blind Side’s audience were over 25.

AND let’s not forget Precious. The film widened to over
600 screens and took in $11 million and is still raking in high per
screen averages. It will roll out wider this holiday weekend.

So what does this mean?

It seems to me that while Hollywood felt comfortable dismissing Sex and the City, Mamma Mia (because the audiences for those were primarily over 25), and even Twilight
(as a one time wonder), there is no way that these numbers could be
dismissed as a fluke. They are just too big. Women and girls are
looking for material that they connect with just as much as guys and
boys are, but the thing that blows me away about the success of New Moon and even The Blind Side
is that the theatres were just packed with women not caring if the guys
came with them. This was a weekend where the gals went in bunches and
left the guys home cause they wanted to see this movie more than they
wanted to see whatever their boyfriends or guyfriends wanted to see.

As I’ve harped on FOREVER there is an audience out there hungry to
see films that appeal to them. I’m not trying to say that all women’s
films will be as successful as New Moon because that’s silly. These
kinds of movies come along rarely cause Hollywood hardly makes them.
But this weekend’s number indicate that they should make more of them.

I think we need to keep New Moon in perspective. Like I stated
above, these films come along rarely and Hollywood has a tendency to
try and replicate successes very quickly. Lots of times those
replications don’t work. I think the actual film New Moon suffered because it was rushed to the screen. But that didn’t matter one iota to the fans. They loved it.

I think this is an opportunity for Hollywood to be smart and
creative and to think about how to build on the women’s market because
it is clearly out there.

But don’t think that New Moon’s huge success doesn’t give me
pause. The misogyny which I have been told about (and refuse to read)
that has made it’s way onto the web calling girls stupid and screaming
idiots and worse (so typical) for enjoying the film makes me angry.
Because we have had so few films that has a woman at its center do as
well as New Moon it is being held to an absurd standard.
Yes, I wish the film would have been better. I thought it was cheesy
and the last third was just useless (a total waste of Dakota Fanning
and Michael Sheen’s talents.)

I love how people are complaining about the objectification of
Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson. Now you’re upset about the fact
that movies taunt and flaunt? The only thing that makes this different
is that Megan Fox had to keep her short shorts on in Transformers, and Taylor Lautner spent most of New Moon
with his shirt off. If you’re going to complain about these guys being
sexualized, you will have a hard time getting anyone to take you
seriously. Women are sexually objectified in basically every Hollywood

But at the end of the day the success of New Moon (there are many other people having better conversations about the content of New Moon
and whether it sets back women and if it is anti-feminist), is a HUGE
triumph, and has the potential to be a game changing moment in the film
business. The fact that a film fueled by woman power and starring a
woman has called such waves in Hollywood is unprecedented. The
business must figure out ways to build on it. If they don’t they are
squandering a huge opportunity and all their shareholders should have
them fired.

Originally posted at Women & Hollywood

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