Despite Wall Street Journal movie whisperer Joe Morgenstern fretting that too many big-budget comedies seem to be exploiting the extremely talented Melissa McCarthy, and that, as a result, McCarthy-starring movies may soon be subject to the law of diminishing returns , that time is not yet nigh because everyone a) who isn’t a child or b) whose social calendar isn’t controlled by a child despot went to see The Heat this weekend, pushing it to an estimated $40 million opening, second behind Monsters University.
That, according to Buzzfeed’s Jordan Zakarin, is the second time in three years that a female-drive, Paul Feig/Melissa McCarthy summer comedy has exceeded expectations. Bridesmaids earned a mere $26 million its first weekend, and quickly went on to become a $288 million worldwide smash (especially for an R-rated comedy), so The Heat is already off to a better start. Of course, you’re probably not seeing any residuals from The Heat’s success, so exactly how many fucks do you, the average moviegoer just looking for a halfway decent thing to spend $12-$25 on this weekend, give?
Whether you like the Feig’s growing canon of female-starring comedies or you think that they’re just a touch too long and overhyped, you might see the success of movies like The Heat as boding well for the future of women in Hollywood. It’s hard, however, to keep score when we’re talking about big-budget summer blockbusters, because basically all these movies are making obscene amounts of money. Oh, The Heat made some producer a couple million richer this weekend? Wonderful — sexism in Hollywood is now over, thanks, Paul Feig.
Still, as wonderful as cynicism is to pair with Hollywood news, The Heat, a buddy-cop comedy with women, had direct, in-genre competition from White House Down, a buddy-action (sorta, kinda comedy) with men, and guess what? White House Down wasn’t up to the task, falling to the fourth spot with $25.7 million. That’s a shame because Channing Tatum is a delightful screen presence, but it sends a direct message to summer movie makers: audiences are tired of seeing Die Hard and Lethal Weapon copycats. It’s time for something new, and if nobody in the major studios is willing to take major risks on work that isn’t based on an action figure’s package description or a board game, then at least they can play around with putting women into roles traditionally occupied by men like Mel Gibson and Danny Glover.
Image via AP, Evan Agostini