Back Off, Haters: How Mad Max: Fury Road’s Feminism Kicks Butt

18 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Back Off, Haters: How Mad Max: Fury Road’s Feminism Kicks Butt.

Mad Max: Fury Road is something special – and not just because Charlize Theron is driving the action as one of the toughest onscreen women since Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies. The Elizabeth Banks-directed sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit and video on demand phenomenon cost Universal Pictures only $29 million to produce and was expected to open in the $50 million range. After a 30-year hiatus, director George Miller’s epic return to the Mad Max universe is a relentless, high-octane thrill ride that will keep your hands gripped to your cup holders and your knuckles whiter than its bad guy’s creepy pale skin. The first film, for comparison, grossed only $65 million domestically across its entire run. “It’s aca-awesome,” said Universal Pictures’ President of Domestic Distribution Nick Carpou. “We knew that the film would be a success, but there’s something that happens when movies grow in their success beyond a range that’s easily predictable.

The opening weekend numbers for”Pitch Perfect 2,” which annihilated the competition with a staggering $70 million bow, illustrate the financial power of this frequently ignored consumer group. “It’s a validation of the fact that if you make movies by women for women starring women they’re going to do well,” said Phil Contrino, vice president and chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. When that happens, the sky’s the limit.” Audiences for the musical comedy starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson were 75 percent female and 62 percent under the age of 25, according to Universal. “It starts with young female appeal, generally, and then expands beyond that thanks to careful marketing and publicity. What makes “Pitch Perfect 2″ something of a rarity is that it not only stars women like Rebel Wilson and Anna Kendrick, but its behind the scenes talent, director Elizabeth Banks and writer Kay Cannon, are also female.

The film’s success over male-dominated “Mad Max: Fury Road” prompted Lynda Obst, the producer of “Sleepless in Seattle,” to engage in a bit of chest thumping on Twitter. “64m weekend for Pitch Perfect 2 beats MadMax!! Some anti-feminist provocateurs – a.k.a. just plain old Internet trolls – have been whipping up controversy, complaining about a woman stealing the show from manly Mad Max himself (Tom Hardy, taking over from Mel Gibson) and about the plot centering around Theron’s Furiosa trying to save a group of female sex slaves from the depredations of Skeletor-like warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). “Hollywood has the audacity to remove the name sake of a movie franchise called MAD FREAKING MAX, and replace it with an impossible female character in an effort to kowtow to feminism,” wrote Aaron Clarey on the blog Return of Kings. “I was very interested in a female road warrior,” he told NPR. “And here she is, a character exactly equivalent to Max. And both of them are about their own survival.” “I always had this little voice in my head of George going, ‘Well, now I’m going to show you a real woman.’ When you come across that rare filmmaker that really wants to embrace that, it’s really nice, and should there be more of that? Fellman said that many of the showings ended with applause, only adding to the hope that word of mouth will contribute to a lengthy and successful run. “Each film absolutely found its target audience,” said Dergarabedian. “They were running on parallel tracks and both exceeded expectations by not cannibalizing each other.

Joe’s runaway harem of beautiful “breeders,” played by Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Riley Keough, Zoe Kravitz, Abbey Lee, and Courtney Eaton, are much more than typical action film eye candy. This week, the American Civil Liberties Union urged state and federal agencies to launch investigations into gender discrimination at studios, TV networks and talent agencies. This summer overflows with films powered by female talent: “Trainwreck,” which Amy Schumer wrote and stars in; “Spy,” with Melissa McCarthy; “Ricki and The Flash,” which features a star turn for Meryl Streep and a Diablo Cody script; and “Paper Towns,” a tween weepie that could turn Cara Delevingne into the next Shailene Woodley. It doesn’t always work, of course. “Hot Pursuit” starred Sofia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon and was directed by Anne Fletcher, but a dearth of laughs resulted in hostile reviews and a dismal box office performance. The film took such pains to be more equal opportunity in its mayhem that Miller went so far as to tap “Vagina Monologues” author Eve Ensler to serve as a consultant on the movie and advise him on ways to beef up the female roles.

In an interview with Variety, Blanchett said she it was important that actresses and the media continue to bang the drum for greater equality on screen.

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