I have not seen a movie in the theaters in months and months and months. Granted, there was Beauty and the Beast, but that was 2 months after it came out and there were only a handful of people in the theater with us. But before that? Rogue One. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Arrival. 2016 seems like a lifetime ago at this point. So finally seeing something that had been out for less than a month (important in the summer season where there are so many big and brand name movies that are competing for screen space and time). And this one was important to me, because it was Wonder Woman.
Granted, at my local theater they’re still showing it on one screen for 5 showings each day, but that’s reduced from multiple screens, and 3D showings. And I’m guessing the only reason it’s still there is because it’s done well, and made a lot of money. Other, more recently released movies have fewer showtimes. Take for example the recently released remake of “The Mummy” – it came out in theaters a week after Wonder Woman did, but at my local theater, appears on fewer screens. And when you look at the numbers, it’s obvious why – Wonder Woman has made $372 million dollars to date, while the Mummy only clocks in at $78.5 million. At this point, you’re likely to make three times as much per screen with a showing of Wonder Woman than a showing of The Mummy.
This is not necessarily a fair comparison because while they are both well known intellectual properties, super-hero movies have dominated the film landscape in recent years. A better comparison would be the recently released Spider-man movie – on the Wednesday after it’s release weekend, Wonder Woman had made around $138 million dollars. At this same point, Spider-man has made $154 million. Yes, Spider-man has made more, but perhaps that’s due to the fact that the Marvel comics movies tend to be a little more upbeat and enjoyable than the tendency for DC comics movies to be dark, gritty and “realistic”. 138 million dollars in less than a week is nothing to sniff at. It’s a sign of a healthy audience. And the fact that the box office for WW has continued to grow – at this point more than 2.5 times it’s first week gross – shows that there’s an audience there. This was something people wanted and enjoyed, are going back to see, and telling their friends about. And there’s already a sequel in the works.
So – why all the discussion of movie theater business decisions and box office yields? Because some movie executives (and men in general) can’t get past the idea of believing that a female led-film (much less one directed by a woman) is a good investment. For years, Marvel has been hemming and hawing about having a female-led movie, and even though they are finally getting around to it, they’ve managed to bungle that as well – Ant-Man and the Wasp will come out in 2018, but getting co-billing isn’t quite the same as a female character headlining a film. Thank goodness we’ve got Captain Marvel coming out in 2019 – I can only hope that they don’t screw that one up. But yeah – women want to see women on screen. Women make up more than half of all movie-goers, and want to see characters on screen that look like them. They want to empathize with the lead, not with the fifth billed co-star whose main attribute in some promotional material was her butt. Being the token lady every single time is not going to cut it.
So when someone takes the time to make a fun, exciting, and occasionally thoughtful superhero movie featuring a female lead, it’s hard to ignore. Especially when it does well. Look at my list of the last five movies I’ve seen at the top of this post again – four of the five have female leads. And who in our household made the decision to see those movies? I did. And I didn’t go alone – I made sure the Boy joined me for each one.
But what about the movie itself? Was it good? Yeah. Definitely – the action scenes were terrific, and I loved everything that took place on Themyscira. The Amazons were amazing. The rest of the movie had its ups and downs (including the way it portrayed Germans as these all-encompassing baddies), but some moments – like Diana going into No-Man’s Land were immensely powerful. Seeing a woman have the courage to go and do what no man before her had done was incredibly moving, and it brought me to tears.
If the movie were terrible, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. But overall, it’s pretty good. And for that reason, I feel like it’s the kind of movie that every young girl (of reasonable age – say 8-10 and up depending on the maturity of your child) should see so that they know women matter in the world of super-heroes. It’s also the kind of movie that boys of that same age group should see so that they have female role super-hero role models in addition to any of the other caped-crusaders they might worship. Because the more we stop sex-segregating our media, and allow boys to learn to empathize with female characters, the better off we may be socially in the future.
Ok. Enough of my feminist-Hollywood-economics rant. Who else saw Wonder Woman? What did you think? What age do you think would be old enough to see this movie, and did anyone else cry at the scene I did? Also – how awesome was Robin Wright? (Answer: so awesome).
Details: Wonder Woman, written by Allan Heinberg, directed by Patty Jenkins. In theaters.