The movie theater was one of the coolest places to spend your weekend this summer: the air conditioning blasting, popcorn flowing, and the soft drinks refreshing. However, not many people in America felt the same way. According to Forbes, summer 2014 box-office sales flopped with a grand total of $4.05 billion for the season, a 14.6% decrease from the year prior, which continues an eight year decline.
Nevertheless, there was one bright light in this grimness—women. Interestingly enough, women lead the box office in profits and in major motion pictures this summer. This season usually belongs to action films and men dominating the ticket stubs. Nonetheless, Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow and the all-star cast of Expendables 3 didn’t do so hot.
Angelina Jolie as the evil-turned-good Maleficent brought in $238 million worldwide. While Shailene Woodley starred in the film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars earning $286 million; she was also a box-office hit earlier this year with Divergent. Scarlett Johansson surprised moviegoers with Lucy as the action-packed leading lady grossed $270 million worldwide.
Communications professor Alan Hueth suggests that the box office today is truly genre driven. There are many factors such as rating, demographic, and audience that are important in predicting this trend.
“Story always wins, no matter the gender,” Hueth said.
Maybe it just comes down to the simple fact that women are better consumers than men.
“Romantic Comedies is the most popular genre because 19-49 year-olds make the determination of how the money is spent in the household,” Hueth said.
Eighty-two percent of the premiere audience for The Fault in Our Stars were women. Eighty percent of those women were under the age of 25.
Over the past year, Gravity, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Frozen and Maleficent have taken in a combined $3.6 billion worldwide, according to the database Box Office Mojo. Coming up, Warner Bros. is finally taking a chance on Wonder Woman, and Columbia Pictures is interested in an all-female remake of Ghostbusters, according to the New York Times.
Hueth also mentioned that women are breaking out in the screenwriting industry. The big summer hit Guardians of the Galaxy was written by Nicole Perlman, which totaled a whopping $280 million domestic and $273 million overseas, Box Office Mojo reports. She wrote her first draft while she was still in Marvel’s writing program in 2009; she is the first woman with writing credit on a Marvel movie.
“They kept saying, ‘This is a guy’s movie, you know, it’s really a guy’s movie.’ I didn’t want to say, ‘Are you saying a woman can’t write a guy’s movie?’” Perlman recalled to Time in July. “What is a guy’s movie anyway? If you’re making a movie that’s just for one gender, what’s the point?’”
Senior Kayla Morales has a theatre minor and aspires to be an actress one day. She played the leading lady in last semester’s Dark Matter. She finds comfort in these numbers.
“This makes me feel hopeful not only in the aspects of art, but in society in general,” said Morales.
She has recognized that the summer box office is usually driven by men and feels that this is a breath of fresh air.
Women were abundant in the box office this summer and truly made their mark with the revenue their films brought in. Maybe this past season foreshadows a trend of women in Hollywood continuing to make their imprint on showbiz in more ways than one by either screenwriting like Perlman or full action- packed adventure like Lucy. Stayed tuned.