Fourth of July: Female power triumphs at the movies
The Fourth of July weekend traditionally launches action films for guys. But this year, 'Twilight: Eclipse' is breaking Hollywood records, mainly because girls and women are seeing it more than once.
This Independence day, three-day weekend has traditionally been the berth of the big boy-toy, bam-bam film ‚Äď just think of last year‚Äôs box-office hit, ‚ÄúTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen.‚ÄĚ
But this year, while there are screams a-plenty, they are howls of fan-passion from the wide range of girls and women who are making ‚ÄúTwilight: Eclipse‚ÄĚ the powerhouse film of the summer.
‚ÄúThis film has already broken industry records,‚ÄĚ says hollywood.com box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, pointing to the largest number of theaters for a film‚Äôs opening weekend (4,468) and the highest gross for a midnight showing (Wednesday night ‚Äď $30 million). While there has been much hand-wringing in Hollywood over the slump in moviegoing this summer ‚Äď box-office revenues are down by 17 percent from last year ‚Äď Mr. Dergarabedian says, ‚Äúthis is the movie that will put this Fourth of July weekend on the map.‚ÄĚ
Part of the fair-sex power comes from sheer persistence. Many fans, young and old, are going multiple times.
Seeing 'Twilight: Eclipse' more than once
‚ÄúI will definitely go again,‚ÄĚ says 30 year-old Valerie Alhart, who attended the midnight premier at a theater near Rochester, New York, with her mother-in-law and her mother. ‚ÄúMy older sister is a huge fan, too.‚ÄĚ
This is not to downplay the significant number of men filling theater seats for the vampire saga, but as Ms. Alhart notes, ‚ÄúI made my husband come with me on Wednesday night, but I don‚Äôt think he will go again. I‚Äôll probably go with my sister or friends.‚ÄĚ
Fare for guys is much spottier this year, says Sean Phillips, Yahoo! Movies executive producer, who notes that the other expected ‚Äútent pole‚ÄĚ holiday film is the M. Night Shyamalan‚Äôs big-screen version of the popular television series, ‚ÄúThe Last Airbender.‚ÄĚ Early reviews of the film include such warning words as ‚Äúsoulless,‚ÄĚ joyless,‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúmuddled mess.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúShyamalan has been coasting on the success of his first big hit ‚ÄėSixth Sense‚Äô for a long time,‚ÄĚ points out Mr. Phillips. And while he has made films that the kindest critics have called ‚Äúinteresting,‚ÄĚ none have come close to fulfilling his early promise, Phillips says.
Smaller films expected to shine
This would seem to leave a large gap for other smaller films to shine over this long weekend, he suggests, options such as the Helen Mirren vehicle ‚ÄúLove Ranch,‚ÄĚ about a Nevada bordello. Other niche films, such as ‚ÄúCyrus‚ÄĚ and Tilda Swinton in ‚ÄúI Am Love,‚ÄĚ are continuing to draw adult moviegoers.
While analysts such as Dergarabedian suggest this weekend‚Äôs lean offerings are ‚Äúan anomaly,‚ÄĚ other longtime movie watchers, such as Seton Hall University film professor Christopher Sharrett, say it is yet another sign of the increasing creative bankruptcy of Hollywood filmmaking.
‚ÄúThey are focusing more and more on the big-screen spectacle with 3D and computer effects,‚ÄĚ he says, a trend that is being accelerated as theater owners attempt to give patrons a reason to leave their ever-more sophisticated home theaters.
But, he points out, in the end it may be to no avail, because what people want, no matter how big the budget, is a story worth watching.
‚ÄúWhat we‚Äôre seeing is the increasing triumph of spectacle over narrative,‚ÄĚ he says adding ‚Äúand in the end, moviegoers will simply turn to other forms of entertainment.‚ÄĚ