Whip It did not do well at the box office over the weekend; it came in at sixth place and was crushed by Zombieland. Women & Hollywood's Melissa Silverstein writes, "I'm sad." That makes two of us! Here's what's weird:
Whip It's Rotten Tomatoes score is a whopping 82%. The people who have seen it love it. Yet The Invention Of Lying, with a 57% Rotten Tomato score and bad reviews, made more money. Even craptastic-looking Bruce Willis flick Surrogates made more money than Whip It this weekend, and its Rotten Tomato score is an abysmal 39%%.
So what the hell happened?
NPR's Linda Holmes writes that she was "utterly enchanted" by Whip It, and has a theory about why it didn't do well:
Not only is it touching and funny and a rollicking good time, but it's a movie that rarely finds its way to the multiplex — it's a sports movie about a team of women, it's got a cast chosen mostly for suitability and not perceived hotness, and it's warmly funny but almost wisecrack-free.
Of course, all these things are box-office poison. Without wisecracks, what do you put in the trailer? Without perceived hotness, who do you put out front to promote it?
Of course, Zombieland didn't have a hottie, but it did have wisecracks ("Nut up or shut up"), lots of humor, and, of course, zombies.
Silverstein notes that 52% of the Whip It audience was 25 and older, meaning young people did not come out for the flick, opting to see Zombieland instead. She writes:
What this says to me is that [the marketers] didn't figure out how to get the young girls who live the "girl power" lives. Maybe they couldn't get their guy friends/boy friends to go, so they just acquiesced and went to see Zombieland. Maybe the girl power message is a turn off to guys? Maybe some of it is about how women's sports is treated in the culture?
I saw — and enjoyed — both of these movies, but where I would recommend Whip It to anyone — mom, sister, friends, landlady — I couldn't do the same for Zombieland. And it sucks to think that young women might have picked the zombie flick over Whip It (with its female-driven story, female director, and female star) because of guys.
Luckily, NPR's Holmes believes this is not the end for Whip It:
I have to think, and I admit it may be wishful thinking, that the story of this movie making money is far from over. At the end of the showing I went to on Friday night, the audience — mostly made up of groups of women and girls — cheered. One friend who saw it immediately vowed to buy it on DVD and put it in his five-year-old daughter's room to be opened when she turns 13…
Not that many people made it out to see it on opening weekend, but the people who love this movie are going to love it. It's not a movie like The Proposal, where you watch it and it's fun and then you forget all about it. I like to think it's going to live on cable and on DVD and at slumber parties, and even before it leaves theaters, it may make a few more bucks on word of mouth.
Fingers crossed! And even though this ladycentric flick wasn't a box-office smash, Silverstein reminds us that that Julie & Julia "has quietly amassed almost $100 million at the box office." Women can make it happen.