Female Moviegoers are Fickle

15 May

The last Article in our series “ The Next Generation of Films for Women.”

The 2013 Cannes Film Festival finally opened this week and despite my excitement I still can’t get over the lack of female filmmakers in the festival.  Now granted this year they did manage to squeeze in one female director; her name is Valeria Bruni-Tedeschis and the film in competition is A Villa in Italy. Can this lack of diversity in festivals like Cannes and others be due to other mitigating factors? What’s causing women to get passed over? Are female moviegoers really to blame for female filmmakers not advancing?

Are female movie-goers really to blame for female filmmakers not advancing?

In researching this article I was shocked by how many comments written on the Internet about fickle female audiences. On the contrary (from what I’ve seen on LIH and other sites) women and men like watching “good” films that don’t denigrate them, to me that’s not being fickle but smart.  Can you imagine paying your hard earned money on a film laced with sexist stereotypes? Yeah! It really takes the thrill out of going. Anyway, the comments I found about why female filmmakers are getting passed over claims it’s due to female moviegoers lack of interest in other genres of real complexity. They say women are typically drawn to romantic classic melodramas or romantic comedies. According to the New York Times one of the biggest hits last summer was Magic Mike.[1]

“It caters to the kind of visual pleasure — the delight in ogling beautiful bodies in motion — that film theorists have long associated with the male gaze. And it tells what would have been, in an earlier era, the story of a woman, a good-hearted, hard-working striver selling sex appeal, pursuing dreams and looking for true love in difficult circumstances. The stuff of classic melodrama but with a hard-bodied hero in place of the softhearted heroine.”

I still haven’t seen Magic Mike and don’t intend to. The film was directed by Steven Soderbergh and starred Channing Tatum and was produced by Tatum as well. After Kathryn Bigelow The Hurt Locker and Catherine Hardwicke success with Twilight you would think female directors would be first in line to direct Twilight. Instead the franchise was taken over by male directors, which went on to gross more than the original film by Hardwicke.  Based on these results one might imagine male directors are a safe bet for women moviegoers and vice versa. After all there’s no shortage of female directors in Hollywood so what’s the problem? Why aren’t more women directing films for men?

What’s causing women to get passed over?

Do you know what Hollywood fear most?  Studio heads fear the loss of male audiences not female.  In an article called, This Movie Gave me Cooties: Why There Are No Female Directors?[2]  It states,

“The first factor in the Hollywood gender battle is the fear of losing the demographic that makes a major tentpole release the most money- males ages 18-35. There’s a fear in the entire entertainment industry that men won’t consume works coming to them by female authors.”

With films like Bridesmaids and The Hurt Locker hopefully these myths will die. What we now know (from their success) if a good film is marketed well, male audiences will go see it. Today, the biggest argument being made (on behalf of female directors) is for film studios to make films geared toward women’s interest with women at the helm. In my opinion men and women should not be limited to one genre based on race or gender. In order for directors to succeed in the job market placing limitations on men and women won’t help. I will definitely agree there should be more films that appeal to women’s interest however it’s sexist to assume only women or men can produce them.  In an article called Note to Studios: Stop Trying to Get The Boys Back and Chase the Women by Susan Cartsonis she states,

 “Geraldine Laybourne, the founder of Nickelodeon, Oxygen and the Chairman of Alloy Entertainment.  She told me that she feels that we need more female media company owners.  In other words, women who have the power and support to “green light” material that is unique and speaks to the hearts and minds of women.   Men who run the major media companies give the go-ahead to projects that speak to them most viscerally—and I have observed that the visceral overrules any number crunching a company engages in to predict success.[3]

Do you agree women need to own media companies in order for men and women to be respected equally both as moviegoers and producers? Could this anecdote change the amount of female directors in competition at the 2014 Cannes Films Festival?

Also see: Women’s Silent Era Success and New Century Supremacy

57 Responses to “Female Moviegoers are Fickle”

  1. Comic Relief May 15, 2013 at 7:15 PM #

    Great article OB!

    What steps do you think audiences who are interested in the work of female directors should do? Though their visibility appears to remain slight, what should we do to support this community that sometimes (if you look extremely hard) appears to grow every day?

    • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 9:08 AM #

      Thanks CR and good questions. IMO female directors lack opportunity. There is no shortage of female directors today. Actually, directors coming out of film school today are 50% female and 50% male. Yet, I don’t think segregating men and women to one genre and gender is the answer. Why? It really limits ones creativity and two it cuts down on their ability to be competitive.

      How can audiences men & women support female directors? I say start with your wallet. That’s the only way Hollywood will change and listen.

    • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 9:11 AM #

      CR- How many female directors have directed a super hero film? Do u think fanboys would go see a female directed super hero film?

      • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 9:16 AM #

        IMO fanboys should start petitioning for female directors. That might help too.

      • Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 6:32 PM #


        As much as I know “0.” And if I were you shouldn’t hold your breathe for that to happen anytime soon.

        Regardless,I think Katheryn Bigalow has now entered my “I don’t care what they do, yet I’ll probably see it anyway” column. I need to see more female directed movies to add more women to this list.

        • Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 6:56 PM #

          Oops, I was wrong.

          2008’s Punisher: War Zone, was directed by Lexi Alexander.

          • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 7:40 PM #

            Ahh! So only one female? That’s disappointing. I guess CR u need to start a petition for female directors. What do u say?

            • Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 7:53 PM #

              I think women would do better to try to get a well-known director (like maybe Bigalow or Hardwicke) to direct a film of their choice.

              Can you imagine sellling that to the audiences we are talking about without making a gender-based plea.

              I’m not sure you don’t loose the whole confrontation if you start attributing female attributes to successful film methodologies.

              • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 7:59 PM #

                Yeah! That might be a better idea but HW doesn’t care what women think or want. That’s why men need to speak up and out IMO.

                • Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 8:19 PM #

                  I think you’re right, I just think the discussion would better represent women if the discussion focuses on their directing strengths rather than female sensitivities that are hard to define or specify.

                  • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:30 PM #

                    ITA! Your right. BIG HUG!

  2. parisienne May 16, 2013 at 6:05 PM #


    Speaking of CH and Twilight, I think CH did a great job in Twilight as far as trying to get the emotions of the characters correct. I don’t think any of the male directors except for maybe CW did a good job trying to get the emotions out of the actors.

    • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 7:42 PM #

      Yes! CH I think was the best and had the best Twilight. ITA agree both CH and CW were the best at getting the emotions correct.

      Do u think CH would have gotten better with Twilight if she had gotten a bigger budget?

    • Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 8:10 PM #

      Speaking of Hardwicke….

      I don’t think the action was that effective in Twilight. But I tended to think her ways of building atmosphere compensated for any weaknesses in that department. I think here previous films we mainly “talkers.’ She seemed to overcome most of those problems when she did “Red Riding Hood”

      In terms of other strengths, she showed a lot of skill when it came to
      – Using dialogue to creating suspense in the plot,
      – Incorporating music into the narrative,
      – Highlighting tension between characters,
      – Endowing sets and environments with personality,
      – Using rebellious visual style to contradict expectations about character behavior

      Good parts of the movie did not even appear in the book, and all of this should have been attributed to Harwicke.

      Unfortunately all of these were all attributes the male directors exploited for the rest of the series.

      • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:17 PM #

        TBH Red Riding Hood was horrible. However, they hired her to give them Twilight with a different title. I think her film The Nativity Story really showed more range and diversity IMO. Yet, I understand your point about building scenes around action and CGI it’s difficult.

  3. Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 7:06 PM #

    Hi everyone.

    ..,turn’s out Ob is stuck in traffic yet she will be online very soon.

  4. Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 7:30 PM #


    Why do you think Hollywood, can attribute “Magic Mike” to women when women played no significant role in its development?

    • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 7:49 PM #

      Hmm! Good Q.

      In the research and article I referenced they seem to think because the film had a formulaic romantic plot and that it focused on men’s packages etc… based on these elements it was made for women and gay men. I really think its unfair to assume men can’t direct for women and women can’t direct for men. Clearly MM is an example this theory isn’t true.

    • Open Book May 17, 2013 at 9:15 PM #


      I think films like Magic Mike is not something I would call a turn on. What I consider a huge turn on and would make a great film for women and men is a book called “Porn for Women” by Susan Anderson.


  5. Open Book May 16, 2013 at 7:37 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    Sorry I’m late. Let me read and get caught up.

    • Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 7:37 PM #

      Hi OB.

      • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 7:43 PM #

        Hi CR! & Paris!

      • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 7:46 PM #

        Hi OB & CR!

        Great article OB! “In my opinion men and women should not be limited to one genre based on race.” *standing ovation* I 100% agree with you! That belief annoys me to no end.

        • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 7:52 PM #

          Hi Oz!

          Ahh! I LOVE U!!! Yes! This narrow thinking really pisses me off too. If anything it might add a new element or twist to things instead of the same formulaic BS u get from directors who are showing up bored with a genre just to get paid.

          • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 8:13 PM #

            Exactly! I’m annoyed and can’t think of a way of putting it coherently so just “ARGHHHH” will have to do for now! Arghhhh! Love you too! 🙂

            • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:20 PM #

              ARGHHHH! Will work. Hahaha! or better yet should I say Bloody ARGHHH! lol!

              • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 9:57 PM #

                BLOODY ARGHHHH! 🙂

                • Open Book May 17, 2013 at 1:10 PM #

                  Oz! U should do stand up!

        • Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 8:11 PM #

          Hi Ozzie!

          • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 8:14 PM #

            Hi CR!

  6. Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:02 PM #


    Do u think women directors would do better if there was more segregation for example women owning their own media company? Do u think this would improve things or further divide the sexes?

    • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 8:21 PM #

      Actually, I do think that is a good idea and a good way to get the ball rolling. If the company is successful and becomes more in demand, it might wake up the sexist mogals out there. Plus if they making money I don’t think gender is important. The money is! However it does run the risk of a take over from within or a complete buy out. Investment is what’s needed so those women have to be strong!

      • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:28 PM #

        Yeah! It would get the ball rolling. I guess it’s better than what we have now. Plus women could do more than one genre and be nurtured etc.. Your right if it makes money who cares. I just fear it would become a Lifetime channel for women type thing. Even though I don’t watch TV from what I’ve seen on Internet of the OWN network it might not be so bad.

        • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 9:59 PM #

          Yes, that’s a fear I have too.

  7. Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:04 PM #

    Ozzie- What do u think of the 5 female directors invited to Cannes this year? Apparently they were the only directors invited to show their film from Britain. Did u know about this? Do u think Britain does a good job supporting female directors?

    • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:12 PM #

      Here’s an article that mentions the directors.


    • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 8:39 PM #

      No I didn’t. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any female British directors. 😦 I’m going to have to go do a search!

      • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:54 PM #

        Take your time. No worries.

      • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 9:50 PM #

        Sorry I took so long! I don’t know if any of these figures help.

        Number of female British directors (some are in TV): 29
        Of those 29…
        Number I’ve heard of: 1 (hangs head in shame)
        Number of directors I’ve watched films or heard of but didn’t know who the director was: 9
        Number who’ve had some notable success outside of the UK (nomination/awards and/or box office): 8

        For male director success (quick glance, not an indepth search): 19

        Give or take! My tired brain may have missed some out!

        “Do u think Britain does a good job supporting female directors?! Nope but I assume USA has similar statistic so I don’t think they behind or ahead on the sexism.

        • Open Book May 17, 2013 at 1:26 PM #

          Wow! I’m shocked. Thanks for the information.

  8. Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:34 PM #


    Can u name the Top 5 female directors in Hollywood today? I will give u 10 minutes and u can use Google.

    • Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 8:44 PM #

      This isn’t fair I just did an article on directors. I did not know before the article.

      Believe me I’ll do something really phony in the near future. Today I’m not in the mood.

      • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:51 PM #

        Ahh! Hahahaha! Stop complaining I just gave u a Big Hug. Come on please for me???? I will throw in a cyber apple pie if u can name three. How’s that?

        • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 9:53 PM #

          I know I’m very late but I can only think of two. Katheryn Bigelow and Sofia Coppola.

          • Open Book May 17, 2013 at 1:23 PM #

            Better late than never. Also if I may add Lexi Alexander.

            • Open Book May 17, 2013 at 1:34 PM #

              BTW she directed “Green Street Hooligans” it was a good film.

  9. Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 8:41 PM #


    I notice a lot of actors are claiming greater progress in Cannes this year because the competition is being evaluated more critically than in the past.

    Do you think the studios have provoked these comments and even if so does it matter?

    • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:56 PM #

      No. Results matter IMO not talk.

      • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 9:59 PM #

        I agree with OB.

  10. Comic Relief May 16, 2013 at 8:45 PM #

    Unfortunately I have to leave. Provocative article OB, see you later.

    • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 8:53 PM #

      Thanks CR for coming. I’ve missed having u at discussions. We are two ships passing as of late. Goodnight.

  11. Open Book May 16, 2013 at 9:09 PM #

    O.k. here are a couple new female directors work I’ve seen recently that I was impressed with.

    Jennifer Westfeldt- She wrote and directed “Friends With Kids” it came out in 2011. She also wrote Ira & Abby.

    Angelina Jolie- In the Land of Blood & Honey came out in 2011. For a first time film director thought she did an impressive job. It’s a history lesson without a lecture.

    • Open Book May 16, 2013 at 9:12 PM #

      P.S. I’ve seen and know alot more but they are well known and figured u would know them that’s why I selected them.

      • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 10:01 PM #

        Madonna? *ducks from flying tomatoes* 🙂

        • Open Book May 17, 2013 at 1:14 PM #

          LOL! No need to hide I like tomatoes. I did see W.E. and it wasn’t bad. It was very stylized which overshadowed the story. Yet, it was beautiful to watch I will say that.

  12. Open Book May 16, 2013 at 9:15 PM #


    I have to go. Thanks for coming! As always, it was a pleasure talking to u.


    • ozzie20 May 16, 2013 at 10:02 PM #

      Night all from me too. I’ve had fun despite the “bloody arghhh!” 🙂

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