I had (what I thought was) an odd reaction watching Wonder Woman when it first came out. It was during one of the the opening scenes where the Amazonian women were training for battle that I found myself getting teary eyed. Why is this happening? I wondered. There is nothing sad or heartbreaking about this scene at all, I thought. And then it hit me:
Finally. Finally a superhero movie with more than one woman. Finally a blockbuster superhero movie with more than one woman. Finally one where there’s not just the token sexy female character with little backstory, dialogue, or depth.
It was oddly empowering to watch this film, seeing so many women on screen. I thought the same thing watching the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi movie, seeing the female Vice Admiral of the Rebel Alliance sacrifice for others. Seeing Rey as a strong female lead. Seeing Rose Tico, a female sidekick who actually had a more in depth backstory. (And realistic, practical clothes, too!) Seeing the female fighter pilots of the Rebel Alliance defend their cause. Seeing Princess Leia for the last time. Seeing women.
“Leia is probably the only well rounded female character in Episodes 4, 5, and 6.” The conductor of a night of Star Wars music said this recently at one of its performances. I can’t help thinking how sad this is, yet I’m glad that Carrie Fisher lived long enough to see the Star Wars franchise include more women in a wider variety of roles.
Whether superheros and science fiction are your types of movies or not, if we as women want to be seen more on screen in leading roles of depth, leadership, and substance, we must buy a ticket and support the films that are (finally) creating these roles. If we don’t want to be limited to sexy sidekicks and damsels pining away for love in the romcom of the month, we must buy a ticket. On opening weekend.
Why not wait until a movie comes out on Redbox, pay $2 and watch it with a few friends? Why not wait till it comes out on Netflix and watch it for “free”? There’s nothing inherently wrong with either of these things. Sometimes we can’t afford a movie ticket or can’t find a babysitter on a Saturday night. But we vote with our dollars, and the biggest vote we can make is to go with those friends on opening weekend and pay to see the movie in the theater when we can. Together with our friends, we have more influence paying $40 for a few movie tickets versus $2 for a Redbox.
Why opening weekend? What’s special about that? Any purchase of a ticket helps, right? Yes and no. Purchasing a ticket months later doesn’t help the movie generate the PR buzz it needs opening weekend. If we help movies break box office records opening weekend, that’s what gets written about in the media and gets more people to see the movie. That’s what causes people to take notice and think, “hmm, that movie is doing pretty well. It must be good. Maybe I’ll go see it.”
How Stuff Works breaks down why opening weekend is so important for new movies:
“Hollywood’s bar for success changes, but these days hitting or missing $100 million on the opening weekend can mean the difference between a verifiable hit and an arguable flop….blockbuster success and enormous box office numbers during opening weekend have become part of a movie’s promotional campaign. Bringing in less than estimated box office numbers during the first weekend could send the wrong signals to the media and, by extension, the audience.”
Paying $10 to see a movie may seem like alot. But can you give up 2.5 cups of Starbucks, one lunch out during work, or one cheap t-shirt to help “vote” for something that you believe in? (And who doesn’t need an excuse for a night out with their friends or a date night with the one they love?)
I’m not saying we have to see every movie in a theater. But if one breaks the mold– if you see a trailer for a film that seems to offer an intriguing storyline with good representation for women– make an exception and go see it opening weekend.
I’m looking forward to the opening of Black Panther this weekend for several reasons. The costume and set design’s fusion of tradition and futurism, mixed with top notch special effects and characters that most of my generation probably aren’t familiar with are some of them. But one of the most important is being able to vote with my ticket to support greater representation in films for people of color and women. Seeing more people of color in nuanced lead roles is just as important as seeing more women in these roles. We need more of both in films.
If superhero movies aren’t your thing, support movies like Hidden Figures or the upcoming Ocean’s 8. No movie is perfect. Wonder Woman, Star Wars, and Black Panther aren’t perfect. There will be some things in a movie that you don’t like. But if you are thinking of seeing a certain film, don’t wait to see it a year after it comes out. Show Hollywood what you want to see more of now.
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