Sunday, March 8, 2009
Watchmen v. Sex and the City
I saw this in the comments section of another blog and it seemed worth repeating here: Sex And the City (reported budget of about $60 million) earned about $57 million on its opening weekend domestic. Ultimately it brought in about $152 million domestic. It was released by New Line just as it was being dramatically downsized by Time Warner last summer.
The final numbers aren't in for Watchmen but it seems fairly certain that this film (reported budget of $150 million plus) earned less than SATC in its opening week (Hollywood Reporter says $55.7 million). I would be willing to wager it will not reach SATC's final grosses domestically. Warner Bros. distributed it North America (but Paramount has international and Fox gets a cut due to legal wranglings).
Now clearly domestic box office is a relatively small portion of the overall pie for media companies these days. Nonetheless, I find the divergent ways these films have been discussed and positioned in the media to be fascinating.
It is interesting to consider the gender politics involved in the press coverage, critical response, and online discussions about Watchmen v. Sex and the City. It amazes me that, in this day and age, every time a female-targeted movie "hits" at the box office, it is a "huge surprise" given its presumed "niche" audience (see also: Devil Wears Prada, Mamma Mia and most recently, He's Just Not That Into You). The lower budgets invested in these films, compared to male-targeted effects-driven action films, is itself indicative of the lower expectations. Yet Watchmen, because it is geared to the most desirable of audiences, is not conceptualized as niche in the same way -- though it is every bit as much of a niche product.
Oh-so-much more could be said about the ways the two films and their target audiences are conceptualized by various sectors of the industry (not to mention by the press). Alas, I must get back to work. Others' thoughts are welcome, however!
Also: it's worth underscoring that none of these remarks speak to my opinion of the aesthetic or narrative attributes of either film (personally I preferred Watchmen, but still had major problems with it). Discussing each film's relative merits, however, is the subject for a completely different blog entry.