Even with the undeniable successes of “Bridesmaids,” “The Hunger Games” and the “Twilight” franchise, Hollywood’s major studios remain reluctant to make movies aimed at females.
That was the common frustration expressed at Thursday’s CinemaCon panel, which included “Bridesmaids” director Paul Feig, “Hunger Games” producer Nina Jacobson, Fox exec Vanessa Morrison, Regal Entertainment topper Amy Miles and Geena Davis — who heads the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
Jacobson said the relentless pursuit of four-quadrant tentpoles has limited titles for women in service of pursuing the “easily distracted” young male demo.
“Franchise fever has squeezed out a lot of variety,” she noted. “There’s a lot of fear in the marketplace because of the high costs of filmmaking and marketing and the shift in home entertainment.”
Miles said that the decline in first-quarter box office stemmed from a lack of titles for women, contrasting sharply with the fourth quarter’s diversity of product.
“The majority of product in the first quarter was R-rated,” she added. “Our most successful quarters have come when there’s been a lot of choices.”
Feig expressed frustration over studio’s citing the lack of female stars for the international market as a reason for not backing female-driven projects.
“I’m desperate to change that,” he said. “I would love to figure it out.”
Davis, who founded the institute, said at the luncheon panel that it would take 700 years at the current rate of change for women to achieve parity in movie roles.
“We want to believe that things are getting better, but the evidence shows that it’s not.”
Miles said Regal customers were “wildly excited” about “Bridesmaids” and said she expects strong biz for Feig’s “The Heat,” the buddy cop movie starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.
Fox’s screening of “The Heat” on Tuesday night at CinemaCon was well-received by exhibitors. Studio will open the comedy June 28.