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Melissa Silverstein

Melissa Silverstein

Posted: November 23, 2009 10:18 AM

New Moon Brings a New Dawn in Hollywood

What's Your Reaction?

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 film.

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.

New Moon Shines at Box Office (Variety)

New Moon Tops Foreign Box Office (Hollywood Reporter)

Originally posted at Women & Hollywood

 

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