I might write this editorial every time a female-driven movie does well, just so that when you get sick of reading this editorial you'll realize how profoundly right I was.
This weekend's Thanksgiving box office broke all sorts of records, with Frozen and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire making crazy, crazy money. Catching Fire had the fourth best second weekend in history. It had the best Thanksgiving five-day weekend ever, besting Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone. It has made almost $300 million domestic in ten days. Frozen was the biggest movie to ever open in second place, and it was the biggest Thanksgiving opening ever, beating Toy Story 2. The two films, combined, took in over $200 million this weekend.
They are both, of course, movies with female leads. Great female leads, I should add. Female leads who are not secondary to the male characters, and who in fact completely overshadow the men in their films. Hell, Frozen's main story isn't even a romance, it's about the relationship between two sisters.
There's a conventional wisdom that female-led movies don't open or play well. That's dead. And then there's a conventional wisdom that there's only so much of an audience for female-led movies. That was killed good this weekend; there's $200 million worth of an audience. Of course Hollywood always takes the wrong lessons from things, and the next time a female-led movie doesn't do well everybody in power will point to that as if it means something (it probably means the film wasn't good. Besides being female-led, Catching Fire and Frozen are both very good movies), but in the meantime this is something that will be noted in boardrooms across Los Angeles this week.
I'm all but guaranteeing that you will see Captain Marvel in a movie come Marvel Phase Three. With these numbers, with the success of The Hunger Games franchise, there's no way that Marvel can ignore the fact that there's a lot of money to be made with a female-led picture. The studio has long been aware of the female market - the Marvel movies are dripping with female gaze - but now they have evidence that this market comes out and spends in force. Marvel has had plans for her for a while, but now those plans have must become solidified. (I'm trying to bully Marvel a little here, to be honest)
Will Warner Bros take the same lesson? Is this weekend the kick in the pants Wonder Woman needed? I know the studio has been half-heartedly throwing the property around for a while; if, after this weekend, they announce a movie for real they could come out looking like leaders and winners. Surely Warner Bros sees the grosses on Gravity and understands that men will come to a movie with a woman in the lead, right?
One last thing: the two of the biggest movies of all time, adjusted for inflation and not adjusted, are straight up 'girl' movies. Titanic and Gone With The Wind are not huge because of some fluke. They're huge because there's an audience who wants to see movies aimed at them.