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Manohla Dargis Hits It on the Head (Again) With Her Review of Divergent

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by Melissa Silverstein
March 23, 2014 8:58 AM
5 Comments
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How could I love her even more? Is she reading my mind? This is from her review for Divergent.

Women warriors are on the rise again in American movies, and so, too, are hopes that they'll be able to strike where it counts: in the industry's executive suites.

Some of this faith can be traced, irrationally or exuberantly, to "The Hunger Games."

Its second installment, "Catching Fire," wasn’t only the highest grossing movie of 2013, it also pulled in a lot of guys, and not just, you know, women, that 52 percent of North American moviegoers who are deemed a limited demographic, a niche and a seemingly unsolvable problem. That no one would ever frame male-driven franchises like "Iron Man," "Spider-Man" and "The Dark Knight" as niche attractions helps explain that problem.

So, yea for "Divergent," a dumb movie that I hope makes major bank if only as a reminder of the obvious: Women can drive big and little movies, including the pricey franchises that fire up the box office and the culture.

Thanks from a member of 52% of the movie going public. 

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5 Comments

  • WGSS Student | July 15, 2014 8:02 PMReply

    Hello!

    I find Divergent to follow the norm when it comes to movies about women in Hollywood. We have a strong female character, yes. She breaks out of her societal standards to join a much more masculine atmosphere, but when she does so she is weak in the physical sense. She continues to be weak until she and her co-star form a romantic bond and by having that bond she gains the courage/finds the strength to fight to the top of the leader board. Why is it that every woman in Hollywood must have a man that gives them the will to fight? I would like to see a movie in which the female character garners strength from some other source. I would like to see a movie in which the female character doesn't attempt to sacrifice her life for her partner.

    The beginning of the movie attempts to persuade the audience that the film is structured somewhat similar to what I described above. We are introduced to a strong, drivin, and different female character. Yearning to break away from her current life in the pursuit of a much more physically demanding, masculine, career.... and then she falls in love and love conquers all. How do we change this? Do we do what Iorarua suggests and just not attend the movie? There has to be a way to create a new genre of empowered women who don't need to find their strength through a man.

  • iorarua | March 24, 2014 7:09 AMReply

    I'd like some statistics on what percentage of the film-going audience DOES comprise women. I've tried to find some figures on this, but without success.

    From a purely anecdotal, subjective perspective, I grew up a passionate movie fan (due in part to all those wonderful wimmenz pictchas from Hollywood's classic era) but my film-going activity gradually diminished as I grew older - in fact, I almost never go to the movies or even watch films on TV or DVD. This was due entirely to increasing dissatisfaction with only being given the choice to watch films made by, about and for men, with an occasional film about a woman made by men, and the token rare opportunity to see a film made by and about women. (At a guess, based on film-going experience, that last category comprises about 2-5%.)

    So, based on this rather unscientific assessment, if women comprise at least 50% of the film-going audience, then they must be going to see films made by, for and about men, because that's largely all they have to choose from. So if they're willing to go on accepting this status quo, film executives don't see any need to change it.

    Or, if women only comprise a minority of the film-going audience, then perhaps they are like me - dissatisfied with the pitiful lack of women-centric and women-created film content on offer. So, if they are only a minority of the film-going audience, film executives don't see any need to produce films by and about women.

    Damned if we do, damned if we don't

  • Susan | March 24, 2014 3:11 PM

    At CinemaCon each year around this time, the MPAA releases stats on moviegoing and audience breakdowns. This graph below from one of Melissa's previous stories on the subject contains the stats from 2012:

    Females have comprised a larger share of moviegoers (people who went to a movie at the cinema at least once in the year) than males during 2009-2012. The trend is relatively consistent, but in 2012 there was an increase of 1 percentage point in the share of females that attended the cinema (52%) relative to 2011.

  • eienf | March 23, 2014 3:23 PMReply

    Captain obvious sarcasmo to the rescue!

  • kev | March 23, 2014 9:29 AMReply

    Ouch!

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