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binnie

Over the years I've had a similar discussions with record executives and "pundits" from the music industry, who are all bemoaning the demise of the industry, that the "kids" are downloading whatever they want, that CD sales are tanking, that the major labels (after all the mergers of the last several years, how many are there now, FOUR?)are suffering record (pardon the pun) losses, and there's all this hand-wringing and moaning and rending of clothing. Once, during a large meeting of all these execs and pundits I raised my hand and said, "Hey, how about you start marketing music that doesn't SUCK? How about selling CD's to people that actually BUY CD's, like, say, ADULTS, and not some fickle teenage demographic? People will buy it, if you just put out something decent."
Whoa it got awfully quiet in there...

binnie

Eek. Forgive the typos.

christina

The Devil Wears Prada was great fun. I think many of us went to see Meryl Streep - knowing she wouldn't have done it if the role wasn't well written.

The Nanny Diaries - blech. I saw it on a plane and that was the right place to watch it. A waste of Laura Linney.

I love a good chick flick. I think there were some good ones last year, but they were more for older, indie chicks - Lars and the Real Girl, The Savages and yes, Juno (for everyone). And how about Waitress? Not a perfect film, but definitely an indie chick flick. My boyfriend loved that one.

Matt

I would argue that Buffy and Juno are from the same paradigm-- scrappy, independent young women who have a knack for one-liners. One of them just happens to be set in a fantasy world.

Christian Howell

Aaah, my favorite subject. The source of my angst. The object of my cinematic desire. A good movie with strong women.

Women want just what men want....To see themselves in a positive light, and able to handle those niggling little conundrums that we all find ourselves in.....without Prince Charming coming to the rescue.

I mean where are the fart jokes? Where are the friends who actually have something to contribute?

No wonder those movies flop. I spend plenty of time at the club and women do get into fights.

They do have troublemakers. They have people who they would curse out for no apparent reason.

I'm glad the Juno did well, cause I will really be pushing my female-driven coming-of-age drama now.

That's a big problem with new paradigms is that people try to do this in a vacuum, rather than hanging out with women AS PEOPLE NOT AS "POTENTIAL" GIRLFRIENDS.

Not knowing women is ingrained in the American male's psyche. It's stupid but as long as men don't change it, THEY'LL (I don't have the problem) never KNOW women.

But it's similar to the "too clever" problem that Hollywood is experiencing. People don't want clever, they want entertaining. They don't care about twists or stereotypes, only did I laugh or think or cry.

So when you go to write the heartwarming story of a girl who....


Remember, there are plenty of male-driven movies with no love interest or sex scenes or bikini scenes or shower scenes. You know the usual drivel that's supposed to represent women.

Right now I have seven of these in the works and will probably come up with some more.

I'd much rather look at Katie Holmes than Tom Cruise on a set day after day.

Stephanie

Christina, thanks for bringing up Waitress, because I love that movie and I think that it perfectly captures what Billy is saying. That women are looking for themselves in movies and not throw-backs of what we once were.

Really well said, Billy. I appreciate you fighting back against the overly simplistic analysis that has run rampant recently. We all deserve better.

Tammie McElligott

Let's try this again.

I'm enjoying your blog!

I'm a fan of dramedies and sort of feel I've moved past the chick flick -barely moved past - okay -maybe more than barely - past the chick flick phase.

As for recent flicks, Dan In Real Life was great. A romantic comedy but could be called a chick flick with out the 20 something and the only passion being about shoes!

E.C. Henry

Interesting, thought provoking post, Billy. When I think of "chick flicks" I think in the vein of "Thelma and Louise," "Beaches," or "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," not so much rom-com fare--though I do think rom-coms play more to women's fancies then men's. For me a chick flick is a chick flick when, exactly as you said, women flock to it and rave about it. Girls like it, guys squirm when watching it. Yeah, that's how you know you're watching a chick flick.

Like you, Billy, I don't think "chick flick" will never go out of vogue. They'll just be done wrong, from time-to-time that's all. But what gives me hope is we've got one ace in the hole (that's you Mr. Mernit) to keep the poor offerings to a minimum. Keep up the fine work. Hey, maybe you should run for office. Don't think McCain's declared who his running mate's going to be yet...

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Judith Duncan

Hi Billy,
Thanks for the insightful post.I get really angry about the whole 'chick flick' tag.I have a pretty eclectic task in film.One of the reasons I went to film school was that I was sick of the
'homogenous' woman that I saw so often in film.The worst stereotype for me is the plain girl,who when finally taking off her glasses,looks soooooo good that of course the hero should really be in love with her.Gimme a break.People want to see good films.I've never understood the concept of what 'women' are supposed to want from a film.Like it's supposed to be some sort of weird space people have to go into to understand.I could slip off into my own rant here,but I won't.I'll just say thanks again for the insight.

Cheers,
Judith

mernitman

Binnie: Funny how quiet it can get when you're "talking truth to power"... even when there's typos.

Christina: I still haven't seen LARS -- hadn't thought of it as chick flicky. Curious...

Matt: Quite true. And in a larger sense, don't we all live near the Hellmouth?

Christian: Bring on the strong women. You go, boy.

Stephanie: Yes we do and yes we can.

Tammie: I was a fan of DAN, too -- old-fashioned, sure (I called it "comfort food") but tasty.

EC: I guess I could consider running for Mayor of RomComdom...

Judith-- Ah, woman: that weird space people have to go into to understand! ;-)

Stephanie

I wasn't too fond of Dan in Real Life, to be honest... maybe it just got my single girl cynical hackles up, but it frustrated me how ultimately effortless it was for Dan to find his next life partner... no frustrating blind dates, no alienating internet dating, no awkward attempts at flirtation (okay maybe one). It also didn't seem to spend much time actually telling us who the Juliette Binoche character was, and why Dan liked her other than, well, she's pretty, and then of course the reverse is true, why did she like him at all?

I think this just highlights the exceptional challenge of the romcom. I want to believe that the couple belongs together by the end of the movie, and when you're going from the meet cute to the inevitable end wedding, that's a lot of ground that needs to be covered. I mean, these days, couples take years to make their relationships permanent. So why do writers feel compelled to deliver a wedding at the end of the movie?

It was entertaining, and certainly felt more real than 27 Dresses or other recent fare, but it didn't connect with me.

Christian Howell

You know it Billy. I'm getting reads, so one day soon....

Oh and that's not to say I don't have a Tom Cruise script or two.

I'm not crazy. As a matter of fact, I have a script that they could both be in - the Cruises that is.

christina

Billy - Lars is definitely a chick flick. Actually, a twisted romantic comedy. I loved it.

Reality Check

Mr. Mernit made some valid points about writing what "real women" want.

However, I feel he has over-simplified the reality of the landscape in Hollywood right now.

The bigger, financial reason "chick flicks" and romantic comedies and dramas are not being produced as often any more is because there has been a huge shift in who goes to the movies week after week... Or at least, the perception by major studios of who goes to the movies more often than other groups: Males. Specifically, teen males (12-25).

This can be backed up by what is being offered at the local cineplex. Mostly superhero (comic book based) movies and "Dick Flicks" -- The Judd Apatow romantic comedies for guys that use crude and vulgar humor to tell their stories and that are also coming of age tales for men, more or less.

The male demographic (12-25) is who studios are now catering to more than any other group. This doesn't mean other groups don't go to the movies anymore, obviously, but this is the audience segment that -- in the studios view, skewed data or not -- Consistently brings in box office returns on a weekly basis. This is because teens (males) have disposable income and will go and see pretty much ANYTHING opening weekend, week after week, regardless of quality.

However the big irony is they go more for the social experience than going to see the actual movie. If you have been to your local cineplex recently you know this is true; teens go to socialize and not watch the movie 90% of the time.

This new perception of who goes to the movies each weekend is what studios care about more than ever because of the decreasing amount of people (of all ages and genders) who go to the movies in general. Thus, they now have an easily identifiable group, right or wrong, and are going to cater to them to make sure the revenue streams continue.

This ties in with Mr. Mernit's post above because he makes it seem like if writers write "what real women want" then the rom com and rom drama will make a big comeback. That's only part of it, IMO.

The reality is the whole financial landscape of who studios cater to has changed drastically over the last few years which is the more pressing factor why romantic comedies and "chick flicks" just are not in demand right now and might not be in the foreseeable future if that demographic doesn't change (or remains the same).

mernitman

Stephanie: I understand your resistance to the convention of Carrell and Binoche falling in love so quickly and easily; I did think that their initial bookstore cute meet worked, in terms of creating a "spark" and mutual interest, and they do spend some time together later in the film that suggested their affinities ran deeper. But ultimately, you and I are in a "that's what makes horse racing" place with this particular movie. Re: the obligatory wedding in general, however, I'm with you a 101%. After the race to the airport, it's my least favorite rom-com cliche.

Christian: If you can pull off TomKat being genuinely funny on screen, hats off to you, sir.

Christina: I heart twisted.

Welcome, Reality Check, and thank you for your well-considered comment. I do feel, though, as if (as a Texan friend of mine puts it), you're telling me I don't know how to find flies in milk.

OF COURSE the major demographic pursued by the studios is the under-25 male demographic. This is anything but news, and has been true of the studios not just for a couple of years now, but for a couple of decades. It was this way when I first started working in Hollywood as a studio reader in the early '90s, and it's ever more true today.

Because of this, I didn't emphasize the obvious in my post. What I'm talking about is looking BEYOND that given. The studios need to expand their audiences, now more than ever, and that's why "a woman's picture" that can make a mint is being eagerly sought, just as "Boomer entertainment" is becoming more than a blip on the Hollywood radar. Studio execs know that they have to find a way to keep bringing audiences into the theaters -- which is why there's a movement to offset the older crowd's bad cineplex viewing experience with state-of-the-art (and higher-priced, natch) select-seating w/perks theaters, to bring the over-25 folks back into the fold.

The Way Things Are isn't written in stone, which is why I'm optimistically looking -- as the studios are, grudgingly -- for newer paradigms to emerge.

download movies

When the devil wears prada came out i was very excited, first of all because of Meryl Streep acting and second because of the glamorous show, and i just loved the movie.

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