So whenever the topic of a Wonder Woman movie comes up, particularly why one hasn’t been made in the new golden age of comic book movies, there’s one thing that always gets said that really bothers me, because it’s patently a bold-faced lie.
“Movies with female protagonists don’t sell well enough to be worth it.”
This is bullshit. Complete and utter bullshit.
As evidence, I give you the following:
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). The writing on this movie was so-so. Not bad, but not anything special. The acting was bad enough that Jolie was nominated at the Razzies for Worst Actress. In spite of that, as of last August this is still the single highest box office grossing video game movie of all time. The sequel, Cradle of Life, had the same quality of acting but took a notable drop in the writing quality and STILL did well enough at the box office to justify Paramount agreeing to fund a third movie with a bigger budget. The only reason it didn’t happen is because Jolie refused to do it.
The Resident Evil movie franchise. The first one was pretty good. Not well written, not well acted. The second one was around the same quality. After that, the franchise’s quality of writing and acting started a nose-dive it has yet to pull out of. Let’s be honest: It’s pretty obvious to anyone who has seen them all that the only reason these movies keep getting made is because Paul S. Anderson REALLY loves his wife and wants her to keep having work…
…oh, that and the fact that every single movie has been a major box office success, with each one doing better than the last (in spite of being worse and worse each time), and the franchise as a whole has had a total box office gross of $916M versus the total production budget of $248M. Let me restate that: The Resident Evil movie franchise has had an average *profit* of 111.3 MILLION DOLLARS PER MOVIE with an average production cost of 41.3 Million Dollars per movie.
The atrocious Charlies Angels movies? First one did $264M box office with a $93M budget. Second one did $259M box office with a $120M budget.
And the Holy Grail of heroine-driven movies, The Hunger Games? $691M box office sales on a $78M production budget. Cathing Fire? $863M box office with a $130-140M budget (depending on the source of the number)
FFS, even non-established and/or poorly advertised franchises can be successful.
The first Underworld movie did $95M box office on a $22M production budget. The other 3 movies in the franchise have all totaled $363M box office sales from a total production budget of $155M, and there’s a 5th one on the horizon.
Columbiana finished it’s box office run with a $20M profit on a $40M budget. That’s not the massive earnings of Iron Man 3, but a 50% return on investment before you even include post-box office sales is still pretty damned successful. How many other investments can you make that will return a 50% profit in less than a year? (production began August 2010, movie hit theatres July 2011)
Salt (2010): 110M budget, 293M box office
The Kill Bill movies had a combined budget of $60M and a combined box office gross of $860M.
And let me be completely clear about something: THIS IS NOT NEW. This was not some mystical paradigm shift that came out of nowhere starting in the early 00’s. This has been happening for a while.
Alien Franchise, anyone? Those movies were so successful that they inexplicably convinced our country that Sigourney Weaver is sexy. (Sorry, she looks like a man) The first movie, in 1979, had a production budget of $9M and has grossed a total of $200M at box offices. Aliens (1986) had an 18.5M budget and brought in $131M at box office, in spite of a 7 year haitus between the movies. The third (1992) movie had a $50M budget and pulled $151M at box office, while the fourth (1997) had a $75M and brought $161M at box office.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer made $16M Box Office on a $7M budget.
Now, do keep in mind that on the movies I’ve mentioned, the production cost does not necessarily include advertising costs (some may, others may not).
However, the box office numbers I’m listing are explicitly that: Box office sales numbers. They do not include Blu-Ray/DVD/VHS sales, tv licensing, rental licensing, streaming licensing, etc. (all of which are basically pure profit) For the non-established franchises, it also does not include profits from other media that wouldn’t have existed without the movies: merchandising, video games, comic series, books, and Buffy’s insanely successful tv series that even led to it’s own spin-off.
So. Stop with this bullshit about how action movies with heroines as the lead aren’t profitable because people aren’t interested in seeing it.
We are interested, we always have been interested. It just needs to be done right, advertised well and, most importantly of all: Not be Catwoman *shivers*