×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Pitch Perfect 2’ Box Office: Movies by Women For Women Work

Hollywood got the memo. Women like movies too.

It’s a “duh” moment, but one that took a shockingly long time to arrive. The opening weekend numbers for”Pitch Perfect 2,” which annihilated the competition with a staggering $70 million bow, illustrate the financial power of this frequently ignored consumer group.

“It’s a validation of the fact that if you make movies by women for women starring women they’re going to do well,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com.

What makes “Pitch Perfect 2” something of a rarity is that it not only stars women like Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick, but its behind the scenes talent, director Elizabeth Banks and writer Kay Cannon, are also female.

The film’s success over male-dominated “Mad Max: Fury Road” prompted Lynda Obst, the producer of “Sleepless in Seattle,” to engage in a bit of chest thumping on Twitter.

“64m weekend for Pitch Perfect 2 beats MadMax!! Here come the Girls;the Frozen Generation to take over the box office! Watch out Caped Heroes,” she tweeted.

Still, there is a number of glass ceilings left to shatter. Women only made up 7% of directors in the top 250 grossing films last year.

That percentage could increase thanks to some well timed hits. “Pitch Perfect 2” is the second-biggest debut for a film from a female director, behind only Sam Taylor-Johnson’s “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which also premiered this year. Is it a coincidence that both of these films were produced by Universal, the only major studio with a female chief in Donna Langley?

There are still alarming examples of inequity. Despite the fact that Melissa McCarthy and Jennifer Lawrence remain two of the most consistent draws in the movie business, female actresses have to settle for less money than their male counterparts. The pressure may be mounting for that to change, however. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union urged state and federal agencies to launch investigations into gender discrimination at studios, TV networks and talent agencies.

The situation at the multiplexes seems to have improved even if a pay gap remains for on-screen talent. There’s evidence that the success of female-driven blockbusters such as “Hunger Games” and “Bridesmaids” is finally paying off this year. This summer overflows with films powered by female talent: “Trainwreck,” which Amy Schumer wrote and stars in; “Spy,” with Melissa McCarthy; “Ricki and The Flash,” which features a star turn for Meryl Streep and a Diablo Cody script; and “Paper Towns,” a tween weepie that could turn Cara Delevingne into the next Shailene Woodley.

It doesn’t always work, of course. “Hot Pursuit” starred Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon and was directed by Anne Fletcher, but a dearth of laughs resulted in hostile reviews and a dismal box office performance. Quality is key.

Contrino thinks these films are evidence that Hollywood understands the ticket-buying power of women. “This year is a big year,” he said. “To have the confidence to have put some of these films in summer drives home the point that Hollywood is getting it.”

“To be having this conversation in 2015 is a bit of a drag,” he added. “It took far too long to get to this point.”

Traditionally summer has been reserved for comicbook flicks that play well to teenage boys, but the success of “Pitch Perfect 2” and recent films like “The DUFF” and “Insurgent” suggests that movie marketers may have been chasing the wrong chromosomes. The opening weekend crowd was 75% female and 62% under age 25.

“Young females are clearly some of the most enthusiastic moviegoers around the world,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Rentrak. “They cannot be marginalized ever because they can drive your box office to record heights.”

There was plenty to celebrate for female filmgoers and feminists this weekend beyond “Pitch Perfect 2.” Demographically, “Mad Max: Fury Road” appealed overwhelmingly to men, but George Miller’s apocalyptic opus boasts one of the great female action heroes in Charlize Theron’s glowering, mechanically armed Imperator Furiosa. The film took such pains to be more equal opportunity in its mayhem that Miller went so far as to tap “Vagina Monologues” author Eve Ensler to serve as a consultant on the movie and advise him on ways to beef up the female roles.

Warner Bros., the studio behind “Mad Max: Fury Road,” thinks that the gender breakdown will grow more evenly weighted despite having an opening crowd that was 70% male.

“It will start to shift,” said Dan Fellman, Warner Bros. domestic distribution chief. “That happens with big movies like ‘The Hangover’ or ‘The Matrix’ that start predominantly male, but people hear how funny it is or how cool it is and the demographics start to filter.”

It was also a weekend that saw “Carol,” a lesbian romance starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara with a script from Phyllis Nagy, premiere in Cannes to some of the festival’s strongest notices, with critics predicting serious awards attention.

In an interview with Variety, Blanchett said she it was important that actresses and the media continue to bang the drum for greater equality on screen.

“I want it to not be discussed anymore,” Blanchett said. “But it needs to be discussed.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Olivia Colman in the film THE

    'The Favourite' Reigns in the Craft Categories of the European Film Awards

    Tragicomedy “The Favourite” has romped away with four craft prizes – cinematography, editing, costume design, and hair and make-up – of the European Film Awards. The craft awards were decided by a jury drawn from various below-the-line professions. The 32nd European Film Awards will take place on Dec. 7 in Berlin. Robbie Ryan picked up [...]

  • Love You Forever

    'Love You Forever' Heads for Valentine's Day Release

    Hong Kong’s Edko Films has set a February 2020 release for upcoming romantic drama “Love You Forever.” The film is directed by Yao Tingting, who previously made another nostalgic romance “Yesterday Once More,” which went on to enjoy a $27 million global success in 2016. Edko’s Bill Kong is named as producer. The new film [...]

  • The Irishman

    Film News Roundup: 'The Irishman' Wins Capri Film Festival Screenplay Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Steven Zaillian’s script for “The Irishman” wins an award, MGM hires a trio of marketing execs, MTV Documentary Films sets three new projects; and “The Caretaker of Lorne Field” is becoming a movie. AWARDS Steven Zaillian’s screenplay for Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” will receive the best original screenplay award at [...]

  • Saturday Fiction

    'Saturday Fiction' Yanked From China's Golden Rooster Film Festival on Eve of Debut

    Just a day before its scheduled China debut, director Lou Ye’s latest film, “Saturday Fiction,” has been pulled from its slot as the opener of the mainland’s Golden Rooster Film Festival because of unspecified “internal production problems,” according to Chinese film website Mtime. Speculation has been spreading online that it will also be yanked from [...]

  • DeVon Franklin

    DeVon Franklin Signs First-Look Deal at Paramount Pictures

    DeVon Franklin has signed a first-look producing deal at Paramount Pictures. Under his Franklin Entertainment banner, Franklin previously produced inspirational and faith-based films, including this year’s “Breakthrough,” starring Chrissy Metz, as well as “Miracles From Heaven,” with Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah, and the animated film “The Star,” toplined by Zachary Levi, Gina Rodriguez, Oprah [...]

  • Harriet Movie BTS

    'Harriet' Costume Designer Paul Tazewell on How He Crafted Harriet Tubman's Look

    For many, Harriet Tubman’s journey is one we’re taught about in school. We know she’s a heroine, an abolitionist who led slaves to their freedom via the underground railroad. Unless you’ve read the books by Kate Clifford Larson or Beverly Lowry, “We didn’t receive the whole story,” says costume designer Paul Tazewell. Until now. Kasi [...]

  • Viacom HQ LA

    ViacomCBS Sets HR and Inclusion Chiefs

    ViacomCBS has named corporate heads of HR and inclusion as the companies prepare for the merger that is set to close early next month. The soon-to-combine Viacom and CBS have tapped Nielsen alum Nancy Phillips to serve as exec VP and chief people officer. Viacom alum Marva Smalls will serve as global head of inclusion, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content