Recently, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) came out with some earth-shattering stats that reveal women buy 55% of all theater tickets. That’s women, as in, not men. You can download the pdf of stats here, or read coverage from Women and Hollywood and Marketing to Women Onilne. From Melissa Silverstein:
I know exactly why the 2009 numbers increased. If you follow the business it’s not too hard to figure it out. The reasons are New Moon and The Blind Side with a side of The Proposal (now Sandra Bullock’s Oscar makes even more sense.) Maybe folks are going to try and say that it is a fluke because there were two female centric successes and we don’t have those frequently. Friends, that is the whole fucking point. It’s like that line from Field of Dreams – “if you build it they will come.” It is only looked at as a fluke because of the shortsightedness of people who won’t believe that women will continue to go to the movies.
Melissa’s thinking here makes sense. But since nobody tracks the demographics of who is going to which movie in any serious way, there is room for additional speculation. We’ve heard in recent years that women pay for dates more often than they used to (movies being typical date fodder). Could it be the wage gap is finally closing, and the spending power of women is reaching parity with men? There could be any number of cultural factors at work here, but what seems clear from any reading of these stats these stats is that movies which appeal to women are worth making.
So any day now, films will be target primarily at women, and only dumb actioners will be made for men. Right? right?
Or the studio executives will see that and think: “See, we’re doing it right. Women go to the movies even when we don’t make films for them, so why should we start.” Because either way, women do it wrong.
Yes, exactly. If we watch, we’re “easy to please”. If we don’t watch, we’re “impossible to please.” That’s why women can’t vote with their dollars in the entertainment marketplace. It’s not that we don’t generate the numbers – see above. It’s that no matter what numbers we generate, the film industry is working from a data set which assures them it’s just not possible that women are actually worth appealing to. Once you’ve eliminated the impossible, you consider the improbable. Hollywood has always managed to find any number of improbably scenarios to explain away the (im)possibility that women are consumers and somebody ought to want our money.
Another quote from Silverstein’s article:
Here’s the money quote from the MPAA:
“A higher percentage of women than men are moviegoers in all categories of frequency.”
In. All. Categories. of. Frequency.
Women make up 9 million more filmgoers than men.
This will make a nice shut the hell up the next time some dude feels the need to “mansplain” to you how chicks don’t go to movies enough, and if chicks did, why then surely those lovely film executroids would accommodate their little pink-lovin’ asses better. It’s just not true. Huge industries do leave money on the table. They just do – all the time. I’m frequently looking to buy services or products only to find they’re not available, or they’re available but shipping will cost 3 times the product price, or they’re available but the website doesn’t show you all your options because they want you to call a customer service rep and let them tell you what to buy so you’ll overspend, or because someone wants to hard sell me something I was already prepped to buy before the salesfool made me homicidal.
It happens all the freaking time, people. Free markets are beautiful things, but buyers can only purchase what’s offered. And even when they do spend, if the people in charge are so incapable of reason that they look for ways to explain that spending away, it doesn’t change the industry’s scope like it should.