Sunday Discussion: Will Sex and the City Rattle Hollywood's Cages?
by Alex Billington
June 1, 2008
If you stopped by a movie theater this weekend, I'm sure you ran into crowds of women all dressed up in their finest couture and high heels. The event was Sex and the City: The Movie, a full 148-minute feature film version of the hit HBO show that went off the air in 2004. Back in a Sunday Discussion in January I asked whether the success of Cloverfield would change Hollywood ever, and it somewhat has in a more minor way, but now I've got to ask a similar question. Will the success of Sex and the City this weekend change the way studios look at female-focused flicks? If you remember last October there was a heated discussion about films starring female leads, but now we've got a proven success. With an estimated $55.7 million opening weekend, is this big enough of a hit to change the way Hollywood works?
Reports from this weekend (via Box Office Mojo) not only confirm that Sex and the City made $26.9 million on Friday, with an expected total of $55.7 million, but that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull only made a measly $45 million in its second weekend. To put it plainly, Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda kicked Indiana Jones ass! It also shattered the previous R-rated opening weekend record of $45.1 million held by American Pie. Honestly, I expected it to do this well, but I don't think anyone in Hollywood did. Those are not numbers to just shrug off, which is why I'm wondering how big of an impact it will have. Will New Line Cinema, now being run by Warner Brothers, take this female-led film to heart or will they just blow it off as a one time, unrepeatable anomaly?
Although those of you who hate Sex and the City may have been playing it off as an instant flop, I knew from the start that this fan favorite TV show would bring in crowds. Just because guys don't like what it is doesn't mean women can't enjoy it. And with Sex and the City, it's an important show for females! Just ask any of them who went out to see it this weekend - they'll spend hours explaining why it's so brilliant and so realistic. I think what studios will take away from this is that female audiences can truly make a film successful purely on their own. You don't need to have a male lead for it to be a success. Right?
However, realistically, I believe this is an anomaly. Like Zack Snyder's 300, you can't repeat the success of something like this because it was a solo hit. If any studio tried to make a female-focused film and release it next summer during the same weekend, it would flop, that's guaranteed. Sex and the City itself and the 10 year reputation that the film has is what made this so successful. The only way this could be repeated is if they followed up with Sex and the City 2 next summer. Hell, for all we know, that could happen!
If you're not just going to bash Sex and the City and instead might have an insightful opinion in relation to this discussion, then I'd ask that you contribute below. This one is tough - I really can't put my finger on it. I haven't been to the movie theater enough this weekend or seen a huge reaction from Hollywood in order to determine how big of an impact this will have. Maybe I'm just out of the loop? I am very curious how the success of Sex and the City will be received in Hollywood. Will Sex and the City rattle the cages of Hollywood?
Reader Feedback - 19 Comments
new line shouldnt be taken over by warner bros. im not a fan of sex and the city but its money growth over the weekend was incredible, and with movies like journey to the center of the earth coming out and some others that i dont know about they should stay on its own. By the way harold & kumar was good except for the lovy dovy ending, so they should make a third to that.
darrin on Jun 1, 2008
I think with this movie you are posing the wrong question. I don't think it is whether a female lead is better than a male lead. Its more of "why has this particular movie taken off?". The answer itself is pretty short and simple. This group and movie title have already been a proven formula of financial success. This is not a stand-alone surprise money-maker. This is the end of 5 or 6 seasons that could've probably been done on HBO, but why should it? It can make a lot more money in theaters. Case in point. Everytime Disney shows tweens what they should like and grab on, they cannot get enough. That is why things like Hannah Montana stage shows can rake in multi-millions.
L on Jun 1, 2008
Anyone who is either a straight female or a gay male knew this was going to be huge. The only people surprised by this result are straight men who aren't acquainted with The Ladies...or The Gays...
Derek on Jun 1, 2008
Every Single Girl I know wanted to see this movie and wanted to see it first!!! So every theatre was sold out friday night but as Box Office Mojo reported, ticket sales went down saturday and sunday. Am i surprised that it did well, absolutely NOT. I'm actually quite surprised that nobody noticed how popular and important the show is to women (and from all different backgrounds: my 22 year old , sister, my 30 year old friend, the 40 something journalist that kept writing about it in the newspaper...) I live in Montreal ,Canada and here SATC was all over the news all week long!!! It's a Girl's dream come through! To them the show is not only a cool, smart and witty tv show , its almost a religion or a private club. They don't want guys or their boyfriends to like it ,its something that they can share and experience together (between girls) . Personnaly i never watched an entire episode and i dont really get it but that is exactly the point. The Girls love it and who are we to say that it sucks because it made more money than Indy or that the movie is stupid...forums on other sites have been filled with ignorent and immature comments. I like this website because people who write usually have passion for movies in general and the movie industry. SATC is definetly an important phenomenon because that's what it is : a Cultural Phenomenon. For a day (friday) the women have taken over movie theatres...thats actually quite cool when you think about it. Fan-boys were replaced by Girls in fancy clothes having the time of their lives watching a movie between friends...What's so stupid about that?!? Will it change Hollywood? I dont think so. I think that SATC was an event more than just a movie. I dont even think that a (probable) sequel would make as much money. It was a very exciting weekend for fans of the show but nothing more...and i expect the movie to suffer a big drop in ticket sales over the next weekend. ...hey...it just made the girls crazier, happier and sexier in town. So you know what... THANK YOU SEX AND THE CITY! 😉
Maxwell on Jun 1, 2008
I was a fan who did not want a movie follow-up. I really was finished with the series when it ended. I had enough of the bony hands and the hopeless drama, the need for validation and Miranda's blindness. I was going to wait until the movie came out on video but, I was forced (dragged) out and I stipulated going to the Sunday Matinee even at 11:00am on a Sunday morning the theater was packed. Packed to the front row packed. I think a more strong female film is the Sisterhood of Traveling pants because it deals with issues that shaped the lives of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha. I like Lauren Bacall and went into the theater with her criticism in my head. Aside from the fashion montage and the absolutely neccessary R rating sex scenes I kept waiting for a commercial break. I hope that there is no part 2 because I don't think there is enough fashion designers around and seriously how much more can Miranda screw up her life, Samantha concentrate on her life, Charlotte be so exstatic and Carrie write. The movie preview I was surprised to see and think will suck is Mama Mia Meryl Streep looks beyond old she looks like a prune with legs and a big mouth.
Patricia Appelquist on Jun 1, 2008
Your box office analysis is, no shock, stunningly poor. But as for Sex and the City changing Hollywood? As much as Star Wars Episode I did.
Andrew Wickliffe on Jun 1, 2008
Nice analysis of the situation however on the box office front it isn't as grand as you colored it. While Sex and the City did out gross Indiana Jones this weekend, the former movie is showing a horrible internal multiplier and a little weak legs (Funny considering legs don't show until after two weekends). Relatively speaking, Indiana Jones had a better overall weekend. Sex in the City: Friday - $26,930,000 Saturday - $17,920,000 (-33.5% drop) Sunday - $10,890,000 (-39.2% drop) Indiana Jones: Friday - $12,233,000 (+131.8% increase from Thursday) Saturday - $19,875,000 (+62.5%) Sunday - $13,892,000 (-30.2% drop) I don't want to take anything away from SaTC because seriously, I only had it down for a $30 million weekend. $55 million is an incredible feat for the genre and this movie. However, this might turn out to be just like Cloverfield in the box office front. Which is amazing debut, horrendous legs afterwards. Still will make a profit though. Can't take that away. Also, I would like to point out this statement. "It also shattered the previous R-rated opening weekend record of $45.1 million held by American Pie." Correct me if I'm wrong, but you are implying that American Pie held the record for opening weekend for an R-rated film before SaTC destroyed it? However, that isn't true. SaTC is still number five in opening weekends for an R-rated film behind; Matrix Reloaded, Passion of the Christ, 300, and Hannibal. Not to harp on you, but it looked like you were trying to compare SaTC's gross to American Pie's gross in a relative stand point. (This movie out grossed this other one even though the former is a female oriented one and the latter is a male oriented comedy) As for changing Hollywood, I don't think it will shift any the landscape. Most likely it will show studios that there is a niche they need to exploit. The women factor and demographic has had movies aimed at it but never in a true blockbuster sense. I agree with you on the stand point that Hollywood could try to hit lightning twice and release this type of movie in the same time frame next year and it might perform below the expectations set by Sex. I don't see no epic change. Maybe a minor shift, like I said earlier, but this feels more like a one time deal. Even if they released a sequel it may end up performing below the originals standard in opening weekends. (Sorry for this comment being long. Been browsing your site for months and only now did I decide to contribute)
Thoughtless on Jun 2, 2008
I agree its a one off thing... perhaps we will see more films aimed at the female sex, but it won't change Hollywood much - just more expansion. Oh and I bet the pubs were packed this weekend with Males filling in time whilst the madam was at the theatre! hehe P.S. Where's the males standing in a line complaining about being portrayed as sex objects?? I find it ironic how its different when its the other way around.
nha on Jun 2, 2008
The only thing I hate more than Sex and the City is the idea that all women love/relate to Sex and the City and that men just have to valiantly endure this in order to land chicks. Way to perpetuate the stereotype, Ken.
shekand on Jun 2, 2008
I don't understand why making movies that women want to see is exploiting us? Is hollywood exploiting men when they make a movie based off a comic book? I hope hollywood takes away from this that if you do it right women will go out in droves to go see a movie. I think that is what the point is...that there is the potential for success like this. I do expect a significant drop next week because I like most women won't see this multiple times in the theatre but this movie didn't have a $100mil budget so that really doesn't matter.
Janet on Jun 2, 2008
I'm just going to come right out and say this A) I hate Sex and the City..it's so annoying. and B) I am a 21 year old bisexual white male. I'm not really surprised that the movie has made this much money, as it has a large fan base and I'm not here to disrespect anyone who likes it, hey if you like it kudos to you, it's personally not for me. $55.7 million is a respectable number, but it's not going to stay in the number one spot for very long because the million's it has made thus far is because of the large fanbase and unless those fans go out and see it again and again, it won't stay in the top spot. That's all I really have to say. Hope you all enjoyed the movie. Personally I'm waiting to see the Shopaholic movie that's coming out soon. I also find it weird that I haven't seen one, not ONE SATC TV spot...weird.
Garrett.king on Jun 2, 2008
Janet, I don't think the remark was intended to suggest that women are being exploited. Rather it is the money that women are willing to spend to see the film that is being exploited. It's not about gender, it's about dollars... millions and millions of dollars.
Dave Lister, JMC on Jun 2, 2008
shekand, i dont know if you were refering to my post but if so, im sorry if i offended you or anyone. Im very aware that a lot of girls dont care about the show. I was only trying to make a point about the unsettling hate directed towards the film. I personnally dont understand why some people are pissed off about the fact that it did well. Not being interested (at all) in a movie is one thing but hating it as much as some people do... i dont get it. I didnt want to propagate any stereotype at all!
Maxwell on Jun 2, 2008
The problem with a movie like this is it has a limited audience. It appeals to no one but die-hard fans; like an X-files movie. Now, granted, there are a lot of fans out there. But my guess is that you'll see a HUGE decline in subsequent weekends. Many movies drop 50% by weekend #2. I bet this one goes to sleep. Think about who's going to see this - and did someone say it's R rated? White women, 20 - 50. I bet most of the ones who want to see it twice have done so already. No man cares if 'what's her face' gets new shoes or a new man... or the old one... or whatever. Compare it to a decent Rom-Com like Forget Sarah Marshall, or even PS I Love You. I didn't really want to see either one, but there is some hot eye-candy and a few really funny gags. The only gags the dudes are gonna get from S&TC are from a spoon... ian
Ian on Jun 2, 2008
I am not sure if this will have poor legs or not, whether it can draw in a bigger audience (ie. Men) or multiple viewings. I think everyone else already took my points but what about THE STRANGERS??? That made a very surprising $20.7M! Espcially for a summer R-Rated horror film! Advertising was ace and it shows that R-rated horror is still in as long as it is not torture porn pretty much. STRANGERS was advertised as an old fashioned slasher and was pretty light on the gore throughout the film which I think people found appealing. I saw it Sunday at 2:30 and it was surprisingly pretty close to sold-out. I find this more intresting than SEX. We all knew that would be huge but STRANGERS really came out of left field.
Ryan on Jun 2, 2008
Alex. Nice screen shot. The brunette looks like she's ready to BARF! It was nice to see all the throngs of ladies, mostly dressed to the nines this weekend - while I was seeing IRON MAN again! HA!
Djo on Jun 2, 2008
The Strangers did exceptionally well considering it only cost $9M to make, and made over $20M, while SATC made $55M and cost over $65M. So... The Strangers crew are making money already. Indy isn't breaking even yet ...
ian on Jun 3, 2008
But as for Sex and the City changing Hollywood? As much as Star Wars Episode I did. 🙂
feride on Nov 19, 2009
Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.