New Line film struggling to court male demo

Anticipation for the bigscreen “Sex and the City” has been growing for weeks among its fans, many of whom are planning viewing parties around its opening later this week. But will anyone else see it?

New Line, which preemed the pic in Gotham on Tuesday, signed up a bevy of official promotional partners, and plenty of other companies are also trying cash in on the “Sex” craze.

Among the most elaborate: sold-out “Sex and the City” tours throughout Gotham on Friday. The tours, starting at 10 minute intervals in mid-afternoon, stop off at the Pleasure Chest, where Charlotte purchased her Rabbit sex toy, and the bakery where Miranda devoured cupcakes, before a nosh, screening of the movie and afterparty at Guesthouse. Cosmos aren’t included in the $130 pricetag, although there are several opportunities to imbibe.

At a series of ArcLight “Sex and the City” parties in Hollywood, moviegoers get two Cosmos or martinis, appetizers and a “Sex and the City” fedora and martini glass, along with admission to the movie, for a $60 ducat; the ArcLight added party screenings due to demand. Other fans are planning private pilgrimages to the multiplex to watch their favorite Gotham galpals cavort on the bigscreen.

However, there’s no escaping the fact that the movie is a chick flick with strong appeal among an older femme demo but questionable interest among others. All the magazine coverage in the world — 63 pages in the May 23 edition of Entertainment Weekly alone — and “Sex and the City” TV marathons haven’t really moved the needle among men, many of whom suggest they’d rather be shot than sit through the movie.

Nevertheless, it’s possible, one marketing guru said, that the pic will cross over from “Baby Mama” and “Made of Honor” territory into “The Devil Wears Prada” grosses.

Certainly, “Sex and the City” has a substantial fan base courtesy of HBO’s smallscreen series, which has been widely syndicated and sold billions on DVD. On Tuesday night, the streets around Radio City Music Hall were clogged with fans waiting to get a glimpse of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis and Chris Noth, Mr. Big himself, as they headed into the preem; a thunderstorm wasn’t enough to dampen their ardor for the return of Carrie & Co. Fans did their best to sneak into the theater where celebs and stars such as Donna Karan, Jerry Seinfeld and Katie Couric assembled.

It took some preemgoers an hour to wade through the will call line. Once inside, they acted more like starstruck fans than jaded industryites, taking photos of the crowd in between watching bigscreen projections of arrivals. Afterward, the crowd headed to MoMA, where partners such as Mercedes-Benz, Swarovski, Skyy Vodka and VitaminWater displayed their wares.

All the tie-ins and partners have made for a brand-heavy launch — but that’s probably fitting for a show as brand conscious as “Sex and the City.” Parker has launched fashion and perfume lines of her own.

The movie opens in the U.K. and France today and will unspool domestically in midnight screenings Thursday.

Pic’s R rating and two-hour-plus runtime could also be a hurdle for its B.O. Younger teen femmes, who tend to drive repeat business on chick flicks, won’t be able to add to New Line’s take.

New Line has unquestionably galvanized the fan base for “Sex and the City.” Now it’s just a question how big that is.

(Mia McNiece contributed to this report.)

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