For once, women are dominating movie theaters. That's because there's more than enough for them to see. (OK, they're not going to see Transporter 3.) Usually, though, they're starved and I hope Hollywood takes the lessons of 2008 to heart, from Sex and the City and Mamma Mia! to Twilight and Australia, all movies designed to appeal to women. Lots of women.
The studios always act surprised when movies for women score big. Truth is, they like to make movies for men because they're more predictable and reliable and less finicky and demanding than women. Also, the femme audience can be relied on to go see movies about men, who are less likely to cross the line for a chick flick. Girls like to scream at horror picks. Men would rather die than go to a romantic comedy--unless it stars Seth Rogen, Vince Vaughn or Adam Sandler. Judd Apatow figured out that making rom-coms for both sexes was the way to go.
At the Thanksgiving weekend boxoffice, Four Christmases will do fine, I suspect (despite dismal reviews, although the NYT's A.O. Scott liked it) because it's the kind of rom-com that plays to both sexes. (Here's Pamela McClintock's weekend boxoffice preview.)
Australia will feed the hunger for romance and melodrama and sheer entertainment--while mixed reviews indicate that Oscars are not in its future. Twilight will pull repeat business and curiosity seekers checking out the phenom.
And for the art-house gang, Danny Boyle's must-see Slumdog Millionaire (92% on Rotten Tomatoes) is expanding (and gaining ground in the Oscar derby), and Gus Van Sant's Milk is a critics' fave, also earning 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Sean Penn is already the one to beat in the best actor Oscar race.
[Originally appeared on Variety.com]