Recently, I covered the latest “Charlie’s Angels” foray on the silver screen. In short, I thought it was a fun action movie with a solid cast and compelling action sequences. However, the movie has been struggling; with a 58% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes and it has barely made half its budget so far. In response, writer-director Elizabeth Banks responded to the movie’s shortcomings: “You’ve had 37 Spider-Man movies and you’re not complaining!… I think women are allowed to have one or two action franchises every 17 years—I feel totally fine with that.” This, along with complaints about gender bias with action movies. To which, people responded by with remarks about people wanting to see a good movie. And as I’ve seen friends address this, I kept thinking about the movie’s poor performance.
For the record, I’m not going to argue about whether or not the movie was good — I already have a review that does that. But when I’ve been looking the movie’s reception, I found that while critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 58%, the movie has an eighty percent rating from the audience. Now, I don’t rely on Rotten Tomatoes; this is just to highlight the imbalance between critics and audience. Another reason this doesn’t add up is that audiences, regardless of gender, are fond of action movies with female leads. “Wonder Woman” and “Captain Marvel” are the best two examples in recent memory. And ignoring the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DCEU, movies like “Alien,” “Kill Bill,” and “Terminator 2” are classics with women at the helm.
When talking to some of my friends, they brought up how either the marketing either abysmal or non-existence. And that seems to be one of the biggest reasons that the movie’s been under-performing. While I wouldn’t say that I’m a marketing expert, there was a perfect opportunity to use the trio of kick-ass women and turn the classic Girl’s Night Out into an event; that this was “the” movie to see with your gal pals.
It also didn’t help that the movie was not only battling “Ford v. Ferrari” for the number one spot of the box office, but weeks of big competition. This weekend alone has both the Mr. Rogers movie starring Tom Hanks and Disney’s “Frozen II” that are most likely going to claim the top spots at the box office for weeks to come. And that’s not ignoring the buzz that the new Star Wars is going to make during the holidays. While this isn’t an excuse, there’s no denying this season is competitive for the film industry.
Now, I want this movie to succeed. Not only as a critic, but as someone who loves bad-ass women on the silver screen. But it’s important to look at why the movie is floundering; not necessarily because of the quality, but that the movie was poorly marketed and was stacked up against an intense market for audiences. Movies are high-risk business ventures, and like any product, require a number of things to go right for them to succeed, and sometimes just being good or good enough is not enough to make a film turn a profit.