Random Factoid #377

9 08 2010

Is it really going to come down to estrogen vs. testosterone at the theater this weekend?  It’s “The Expendables” vs. “Eat Pray Love” for the box office title (with “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” looking to appeal to both sides), but some people seem to think it’s a battle of the sexes.  Just look at this over the top fan-made “The Expendables” trailer.

Over at the Los Angeles Times, Steven Zeitchik sizes up the weekend duel:

… a rare experiment will take place next weekend when the testosterone-heavy exploits of Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables” goes up against the journey of female discovery that is Julia Roberts’ “Eat Pray Love.”  It’s as close to a laboratory environment as you can get, since the two films’ subject matter and intended audience couldn’t sit on further ends of the gender spectrum. “The Expendables” contains few romantic interludes, while “Eat Pray Love” doesn’t feature many mercenary gunfights. Julia Roberts is interested in discovering a foreign country. Sylvester Stallone wants to blow one up.

Other factors, meanwhile, are controlled for. Both are mid-budget studio films coming out in the dog days of August. Both were made with the goal of pleasing crowds more than critics. Both pictures are driven by one huge-name star accompanied by a host of smaller ones. And the two are going head-to-head with very little competition. (“Inception” should have finally lost some steam; the more modest “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” is the only other wide opener.) The film that wins the weekend should provide one gender with bragging rights and settle the box-office question (a point made amusingly in the below fan trailer for “The Expendables,” which implores men to turn out for the film next weekend to take back the mantle for all of masculinity).

… But we’ve heard for so long that movies can succeed by aiming at one group or another, and certainly can succeed if they lock down one gender. But according to the pitched battle between “The Expendables” and “Eat Pray Love,” that isn’t entirely true. One gender does hold an edge when it comes to determining a film’s fate. Women get more excited about movies, and they’re more willing to see movies that don’t specifically target them. Men, for their part, are more lukewarm and less flexible.

He also talks a little bit about how gender affect moviegoing:

There are plenty of theories about which gender is drawn more to the movies, and how they make their decisions about going to them. For a number of years it was all about the young males, then, after “Twilight” and “Sex and The City,” all about groups of women, we were told.

According to the MPAA’s research, when it comes to overall attendance, the genders are actually about even. In 2009, the organization found that the moviegoing audience in this country was 52% female and 48% male, pretty much reflective of the breakdown among the U.S. population as a whole, which is 51% female and 49% male. (Women did purchase tickets at a higher rate (55%-45%), but that’s a purse-strings statistic more than a filmgoing one. )

But it may not be that simple. With nearly every other form of entertainment (sports, books, you name it) one gender takes the lead in determining which products are successes and which are consigned to failure. Movies should, all things being equal, follow the same pattern.

It’s almost impossible to get a real-world snapshot of the battle of the sexes at the box office — most movies appeal at least a little bit to both genders — and there are usually other movies crowding theaters in a given weekend anyway.

The article made me think about how my gender affects my moviegoing.  Yes, I am a guy, and I’d much rather see an action movie than a romantic comedy – although I’m much more flexible since I am a “movie person.”  I’ll never see any of the “Twilight” movies or a “Sex and the City” movie on my own volition.

But do I feel defensive about my gender?  Unlike the fake trailer suggests, I don’t think that the box office “belongs” to men.  Julia Roberts is hardly a threat to manliness.  As much as I hate to say it, there is a place for movies like “Twilight.”  Everyone needs a movie.  If you have 30 screens at a theater, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t have something to appeal to any person who stops by the theater.  That means showing indies and foreign films, whatever it takes.

So in this weekend’s box office clash, I’m on team “Scott Pilgrim,” mostly because Sylvester Stallone needs to stop trying to be cool.  Heck, I’m still on team “Inception.”  Wouldn’t it be dreamy if it returned to the top?



2 responses

10 08 2010

But if Scott Pilgrim wins, won’t it be a victory for nerds everywhere? We will be landing the final blow in our war for world domination.

12 08 2010

The problem with Eat, Pray, Love (besides the obvious) is the lack of advertisement. This movie should’ve been all over the television the past few weeks, but besides Roberts going on talk shows, I haven’t seen any commercial for it until last night.

I think Scott Pilgrim takes the weekend, and Expendables in 2nd. I bet on both of them to reach at least 25 mil on HSX.

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