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Chick flick label irks filmmakers

Coolidge leads panel on using term in marketing

Labeling a film a chick flick is a strategic marketing device that studios have used with great success.

However, some of the helmers and writers whose pics have been labeled as such are not enamored by the popular catch phrase.

At the AFM Saturday seminar They Call Them “Chick Flicks”: Offensive or Good Marketing, “The Prince & Me” helmer Martha Coolidge said she found the term “offensive.”

“When I go stand outside the theater, as I did with ‘The Prince and Me’ and watch couples that intended to go see this movie, it was heartbreaking to see them fighting because he refuses up and down to go into a movie that is a chick flick,” Coolidge said. “That hurts and that wasn’t the intention of the movie. That was a marketing problem.”

Despite Coolidge’s frustration with the label, film marketing panelist Dana Precious said it is simply a business tactic.

Although the danger of labeling a pic a chick flick means you are counting on only half the population as an audience, according to panelist “Prince” scribes Michael Begler and Jack Amiel, studios prefer cutting out men’s attendance rather than taking any chances and not appealing to either gender.

“With (‘Raising Helen’) we started with something that we wanted to say but by the time it made it through the studio system (the film) said something specifically different,” Begler said. “We had to throw a Motown song in to let the audience know that everything (with the character) is OK.”

Begler had a similar experience making “The Prince & Me.”

“We had a different ending,” Begler explained. “In the ending we wrote, (the main character) didn’t need the guy she needed herself and her career. She wasn’t going to change for some outdated fantasy. It was a modern way of saying that you don’t need to throw it all overboard for love. But the studio got very nervous and in the end they said let’s change the ending.”

Filmmakers said they wish studios were more upfront about stating they wanted a chick flick rather than making changes to pics late into the production process to make them comply with a specific marketing push.

Other panelists included Aiyana Elliott, Kathleen McLaughlin and Mark Rosman. June Shelley moderated the seminar.

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