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Sony's Woman Problem

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by Melissa Silverstein
December 19, 2011 12:30 PM
8 Comments
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I for one am psyched to see The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (which I will be seeing later today.) But not all women are excited according to a piece last week in Vulture.  Sony seems to be nervous that the film is not tracking well among women, which is one of the reasons why they are opening it up a day early because they need to build word of mouth.  And remember that this is an R rated movies so the young teenage boys are not the target

The reason why they are nervous is because of the graphic subject matter of the book as well as the ads which are clearly dark and cutting edge.  The tag line is the "feel bad" movie of Christmas.  Doesn't give you a lot of cheer during the holiday season.  I think women can handle cutting edge ads, but if you are targeting women and want them to see the film, especially women who really liked the book because those are the ones who will start your much needed word of mouth, you need to get them in the theatre and not piss them off. 

Word of mouth is something you need badly when you have a film where you want women.  Women talk.  Women listen to each other and women's recommendations because we are busy which goes double for this time of year. So if a friend liked something that goes a long way.  Women go to see movies when they hear that they are good or if there is a movement to attend like there was this year with Bridesmaids.  But The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is about as far away you can get from Bridesmaids and still say they are in the same universe. 

They marketers made a major mistake with the first poster that depicted Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander with her breast exposed being held around the upper torso by a fully clothed Daniel Craig as Michael Blomkvist.  I wrote about that poster when it came out in this piece, The Pornification of Lisbeth Salander.  That poster got people going.  There were more comments on that piece than anything else I have written.  Ever. 

Champions of the book think that the boob poster was a huge mistake and is not in context with the character. I guess we shouldn't be surprised because David Fincher, one of the most successful and interesting directors around, is in charge and let's remember that he is not known for making very pro-women films. 

So I was curious and conducted a very unscientific poll of Facebook and Twitter and got some responses which showed that people who read the books and loved them will be going but those who couldn't deal with the violence of the books are not interested in the film.  People who hated the boob poster and loved the book will still be seeing the film.  People who were turned off by the boob poster and who could care less about the book, probably won't be going.

The whole thing is complicated by the fact that one big theme of the movie is violence against women.  [SPOILER] The savage rape of a beloved character.  There are many women -- those who have experienced violence and those who haven't -- who won't go see a film that depicts violence against women no matter how powerful the female character turns out to be.  I'm sure they will be getting lots of guys into the film with all the dark ads and the trailers but we will see whether that will be enough.  We all know that for an R rated film you need to get the women in the door in order for you to have a chance at a success.

Will you be seeing the film?

Why Aren’t More Women Who Loved the Dragon Tattoo Book Planning to See the Movie? (Vulture)

The Pornification of Libeth Salander (Women and Hollywood)

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8 Comments

  • Bes | January 19, 2012 11:46 AMReply

    I am not interested in any film about how women are empowered or motivated or get their life together because of violent sexual assault, this is an ignorant male concept. I don't watch any film or TV that indulges in the cliche that all women die nude. I also am not interested in watching the supposed empowerment of women through lingerie and stilettos. I think women consumers know that Hollywood isn't capable of making movies about authentic women or movies that will entertain women consumers.

  • Daisy Kenyon | December 22, 2011 7:06 PMReply

    I will probably see Dragon.
    What about the rape scene in Boys Don't Cry.? It was brutal but done to show the audience the callousness and brutality of rape. I'm don't think this scared the female audience away.
    Maybe the rape in Dragon will be the same--to show the injustice of rape and motivation for the character. It all depends on how it is portrayed. If it is done to titillate the audience then no, I won't like it. There is enough of that in films.
    I want to see a bad-ass female character who doesn't adhere to strict feminine conventions.

  • Eve | December 21, 2011 4:43 PMReply

    No. "savage rape of a beloved character" is abuse, not entertainment. It is demeaning to female audiences. The actress shouldn't have to tolerate hell for a part. I don't care if it's "in the book." So what. It can be implied. The only way this will stop is if they take a financial hit on the film. Pathetically, in Hollywood, abuse is shrugged off, tolerated and even encouraged by some men in charge, unless they don't make money on it.

    I was in a distributor screening for a different film and overheard two young males chatting. One casually mentioned a project being considered where a "woman is raped to death." In tone and emotional connection, he could have been asking for some ketchup at a fast food chain. In his tone, I heard only a hint of swagger at being "in the know" about his company's future projects. I sarcastically thought, "yeah, there's nothing I'd rather see."

  • Allison | December 21, 2011 9:04 AMReply

    After seeing the Swedish film trilogy, these Amercian remakes feel redundant to me. I guess I could check out the film but I think I'll put some of the other interesting movies coming out this season before it.

  • The Opinioness of the World | December 21, 2011 1:31 AMReply

    As a huge fan of the books and the original Swedish films, I was NOT excited to see the Hollywood remake. The sexist marketing and seeming focus on Lisbeth's vulnerability rather than her strength made me want to stay far away. I blogged about it here: http://opinionessoftheworld.com/2011/12/20/why-im-not-excited-to-see-hollywoods-the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo/

    But after seeing it tonight (so I could review it of course), I've gotta admit I was pleasantly surprised. There were a few missteps. But Rooney Mara, who had ginormous shoes to fill with Noomi Rapace's powerful portrayal in the original, gave a captivating performance. I'm glad the shitty marketing didn't keep me away.

  • Eileen | December 20, 2011 1:41 AMReply

    No I won't see it on the big screen. There are too many other films to see, and I do have some difficulty with intense violence in films. I could either suffer and have a potentially PTSD-like reaction to a major sequence of the film (I read the books) or I could go see Tintin instead. Or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, for god's sake.

  • Therese | December 19, 2011 3:53 PMReply

    I saw the Swedish films which I thought were OK, but progressively less so (like the books). I'm not sure what the American version will have to offer that's different. I realize I'm a minority group that saw the foreign films, but still, the campaign hasn't been that compelling.

  • Zoje | December 19, 2011 1:36 PMReply

    I WILL be seeing the film! And I wrote this blog piece in support of Rooney Mara:
    http://aliceinactionland.blogspot.com/2011/12/rooney-mara-you-go-girl.html

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