Hollywood: Stop Making Silly Feminist Reboots of Movies

Until recently, it was a commonplace in Hollywood that blockbusters centered around female protagonists were a bad idea because while girls and women would pay to see films about the Han Solos and Iron Men of the world, boys and men would not show up for distaff adventures. Just in the last decade, though, that rule has changed: Movies like the Twilight and Hunger Games sagas, Tangled and Frozen could not have done as well as they did by selling tickets exclusively to females, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which turned out to have a female lead, set a new record for North American box office receipts. For three of the last four years, in fact, the no. 1 movie at the North American box office has featured a female protagonist, and the leading blockbuster arriving in the second half of this year, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, also has a lady lead.

To their credit, American males have learned to accept female characters.

But none of those films was accompanied by a sociopolitical message, and that is where we reach the sad saga of the film now widely nicknamed “Lady Ghostbusters.”

This summer’s remake of the 1984 Bill Murray-Dan Aykroyd fantasy comedy limped into theaters bleeding a long trail of bad buzz caused by trailers widely deemed unfunny. After a so-so opening, it quickly died on U.S. screens, managed to get itself banned in China (now the world’s second-largest market) due either to that country’s restrictions on portrayals of supernatural beings or to a perception that it wouldn’t catch on with Chinese viewers, flopped overseas and quickly died out in the U.S. Its distributor, Sony Pictures, cops to a  $70 million loss, but that is sugar-coating the matter. With a production cost of $144 million, plus expected worldwide marketing costs of perhaps $80 to $100 million, and given that movie studios only pocket half of the box-office take (the other half going to theater owners), the 2016 Ghostbusters looks set to lose closer to $100 million.

So why is Hollywood doubling down on the idea of girl-power reboots with a spinoff or remake of Ocean’s Eleven starring an all-women lineup including such actresses as Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Rihanna, Helena Bonham Carter and Mindy Kaling? Never mind that neither Kaling nor Rihanna is a movie star, that Hathaway has worn out her welcome with moviegoers and that Blanchett is one of the least funny actresses currently working: feminists are already gearing up to lavish praise on the movie sight unseen, mainly because they sense that boy critics stand ready to deride the film, also sight unseen.

Ocean’s Ocho, as the heist spinoff is to be called, should study the lesson of the new Ghostbusters. There is no special mystery about why the new film flopped: It wasn’t especially funny, and once word of mouth got around, that sank the film. I say that, by the way, as an admirer of its stars Melissa McCarthy and Kristen Wiig. (Kate McKinnon shows a lot of spark in support as a wacky scientist, but the less said about the fourth co-star, the tiresome Leslie Jones, the better).

Ghostbusters compounded its problems by selling itself as a female-empowerment story, a feminist ally to the Hillary Clinton campaign and a rebuke to male critics. Female critics seemed to undergo a mass fit of auto-hypnosis, convincing themselves that an obviously mediocre film was brilliant, rarely failing to mention how horrible and misogynist the boys were being when they (accurately) predicted the film wouldn’t work. The film’s print ads played up the hurrah-for-feminism tone of these critics, to its peril. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that the marketing for Ghostbusters grew a bit…shrill. The message became, “Come see our film or you’re a chauvinist pig, dummies!”

Nobody went to see The Hunger Games or Twilight because they were told it would be striking a blow on behalf of women. Men and boys went to these films because they were entertaining. An all-female heist comedy could be a great idea (assuming the brittle, chilly Blanchett were replaced by McCarthy and Rihanna, who was unspeakable in Battleship, were replaced by someone who can act).  Repurposing the “Ocean’s” idea, though, makes it look like Hollywood is trying to force a dose of cinematic castor oil down the throats of its “misogynist” doubters.

Audiences don’t want to be taught a lesson. Audiences don’t want to do favors for Hollywood and its progressive agenda. Audiences expect movie studios to deliver quality films to them. Executives blinded by their own desire to shape American tastes to their liking have forgotten the deathless advice of studio mogul Sam Goldwyn: “If you have a message, call Western Union.”

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47 responses to “Hollywood: Stop Making Silly Feminist Reboots of Movies

  1. I am waiting for the all female remake of Blazing Saddles, But they will try to ruin a movie like The Great Excape.

  2. F*** Hollywood. Those dumbos have a very short half life in the new world of digital media. The sooner they go broke the better off is our Nation.

  3. Star Wars: The Force Needs Five More Minutes was never pitched as a movie with a strong Mary Sue female lead, it was always pitched as The Return of Star Wars, with Han Solo prominently in the trailers. I bet a lot of guys were blindsided by the leading female character with magical powers who kicks the weenie bad guy’s butt. I know I was, and I felt used as a result.

    Rouge One: The Girls Take Over is not going to have that cover working for it; It plainly is a movie about Grrrrl Power, and I sure won’t go to a theatre to see it. I suspect a lot of guys will do the same.

    1. The problems with The Force Awakens wasn’t primarily the Mary Sue lead, it was the hyperactive, crowded attempt to retread both A New Hope *and* The Empire Strikes Back in the same movie, and the use of a peculiar dream logic that made no surface sense, and only worked if you were stoned on nostalgia.

          1. But not as much range. He had his wookie howl, and that was it. Solo got the lines to bounce off of Chewy. This time the wookie got to poke back. I imagine 40 years of trundling around after Han Solo would make you develop sarcasm as a defensive measure if nothing else.

            Eps 3-6 had no humor, unless you count Ewoks (which I don’t). Everyone was just so stone cold serious. All. The. Time. 3PO playing straight man to R2 and Harrison Ford’s elastic features were all we got.

            All in all, I actually like Ep 7. It was as good as 4, if not quite up to 5. Ridley – Mary Sue or not – made the whole thing work for me.

          2. ….do you just not understand dry humor??…the original movies did have laughs….saying 7 was as good as 4 is blasphemy…..go kill yourself pls….

      1. Exactly. I came out of that movie and started ticking off all of the exact same things that happened in A New Hope. Orphan on a desert planet who’s an amateur pilot, check. Roguish sidekick/humor relief, check. Planet blown up by giant “Deathstar”, got that. Finally, let’s throw in a Sith lord in a mask because everyone loved Darth Vader, but let’s make him kind of a pathetic loser. It was for all intent and purpose the same movie with less narrative.

          1. Agree – Loved Finn totally. He was the best new part of VII. Of course Han Solo was the BEST part of VII, until the bastards killed him off…

  4. An all female Brokeback Mountain. Heck, make it as feminist as you want, and males will still flock to it.

  5. This article is pretty short on facts and even shorter on patterns. Is there any evidence that Ocean’s Ocho is going to be a “feminist” reboot? And that’s with me even accepting your idea that Ghostbusters was expressedly designed as such, which I don’t think it was. You claim it was marketed as one, but cite no evidence. The trailers certainly didn’t state or imply “Come see our film or you’re a chauvinist pig, dummies!” That message was, I believe, conveyed by some boosters of the film online, but that’s hardly the same as the marketing department.

    So, basically, you’ve got one movie that performed below expectations and you’re tying it to a feminist agenda and spinning an article about it. Tell me, did the Point Break remake fail due to its pro-environment agenda too? Should I pretend there’s a trend and write a cautionary tale?

    Hollywood: Stop Making Silly Environmentalist Reboots of Movies

    1. Marketing is more than trailers. Of late, the trailer is the tease and online word-of-mouth is the marketing. And the word-of-mouth on this one turned shrill very, very quickly. I got blasted with the misogynist label for mentioning that I’d read a bad review. The tone was very much along the lines of, ‘You loved this movie? Well, us girls are going to ruin it for you.’

      If Paul Feig had made any of the successful female-lead movies mentioned in the column, they’d have sucked, too.

      Waiting for the crappy remakes of Weird Science, Better Off Dead, and the entire John Hughes repertoire.

      The original Point Break blew chunks, so I don’t imagine environmentalism had much to do with the remake’s failure.

      Maybe they can cast Rihanna in any role played by Keanu Reeves. They have about the same range.

      1. Please, please no remakes of ‘Better Off Dead’. I went to that movie with such low expectations– thought it was going to be a ‘Porky’s’ clone. What a beautiful surprise it was.

        Captain of my ship in the Navy asked a different officer each night to pick a movie to watch coming back from deployment (back in 1987). Every night he’d turn the movie off about 10-15 minutes in going “we’re not watching this cr$p”. I was about the 12th to pick- made it all the way through, capt loved it and we watched it a few more nights when there was a ‘bad’ pick by his standards.

        Brits, for some reason love ‘The Blues Brothers’, saw that a lot while on an exchange tour with them.

        1. It may be safe, at least from gender bending. Because a loser girl pining for the coolest boy in school would be sexist. And an updated version would be ‘sanctioning’ stalking. Not to mention how sexist it would be when Ricky’s mom blew up.

          So… maybe it’s safe.

          1. But Ricky’s mom was a smoker so that was all good.
            Trying to figure how they could do the ‘Howard Cosell’ running gag, and what immigrants they’d use to pull it off with…

  6. . . . given that movie studios only pocket half of the box-office take (the other half going to theater owners) . . .

    It’s been a while since I was in the biz, but that’s not quite correct. Domestically (USA and Canada), the studios get a lot more than 50%. The theatres make most of their money on snacks and those commercials that run before the movie. Overseas, it’s a lot less – often the local distributor pays a fixed price up front for the local rights and then there might be further payments if the movie does really, really well (hint, for that purpose it almost never does), though some studios with epic distribution power (a/k/a The Mouse) might do better than that on their overseas deal. On the flipside, the local distributors often bear some or most of the local marketing costs, so while those are part of the overall marketing cost of a movie, they aren’t all necessarily borne by the studio or main distributor (sometimes the same entity, sometimes not).

    That’s why “domestic dollars” are worth so much more than overseas dollars. And why Deadpool was seen as so successful – not only did it have a tiny budget by today’s standards, but it’s marketing campaign was also quite cheap AND a disproportionately large amount of its revenue was domestic.

  7. The other aspect of these reboots that is going over so badly is their fundamentally parasitic nature; it’s not just that they put women in lead roles, it’s that they try to co-opt existing franchises to do so in hope of capturing a ready-made audience. Contrary to what the artists or producers may think, audiences in general are smart enough to see that a change in your protagonists is a change in your property, and to resent being called bigots merely for objecting to that change. If Feig, Wiig and McCarthy had simply tried to create an original comedic story about female supernatural exterminators things might have gone much better for them.

    1. They’d have done better to push it as a sequel rather than a reboot. I don’t want to see something I loved copied (poorly… looking at you Red Dawn!). But as the next installment, with a few plot points showing them picking up the reins? Sure. (As long as Feig was nowhere near it.)

      1. Feig himself I don’t mind; I enjoyed THE HEAT quite a lot and thought parts of BRIDESMAIDS were quite funny. But I agree that a sequel rather than a retooling would have gone over much better. If you’re going to co-opt a franchise, at least honour your predecessors more respectfully. I may well give the Ocean’s 8 crew a shot, depending on how they present themselves.

        1. I must have blacked out during the funny parts of Bridesmaids. Repeated head traumas from smashing my skull into the wall trying to just make it please God make it STOP will do that.

          The Heat didn’t do much for me. I like McCarthy, generally, but she’s turning into Adam Sandler – same character, different venue. Maybe it’s that the character she keeps reprising is obnoxious.

  8. In general, I am not against an updated version of an old movie. There’s no compelling reason to reject a “remake.” Why should movies be sacrosanct? Plays and musicals are constantly refreshed with new talent, and tweaking of scripts and music. A new version of anything takes nothing away from the original. If the new movie is a dud, so be it. “Feminist” movies take their chances just like everyone else. The box office rules.

    We don’t throw a snot fit when someone “covers” a hit song. Sometimes the cover is a bigger hit than the original. Consider Whitney Houston’s version of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You. The theme music to Mad Men was a stripped down version of a song I would never have listened to otherwise.

    Wouldn’t remakes of Elvis Presley musicals/movies be fun? Sweet and corny—perfect date night movies. Now who to play the roles played by Elvis?

  9. “But none of those films was accompanied by a sociopolitical message”

    Except that “Force Awakens” featured an implausible female heroine (“I can fly a ship with no training whatsoever!) and a black protagonist who was clearly into her romantically.

    1. Why are either of those implausible, particularly the latter. I don’t imagine storm troopers meet many girls, and the ones they do meet are wearing those figure destroying uniforms. Perfectly plausible that he’d fall for her. Any red blooded heterosexual male would fall for that grin.

      As for a girl pilot, why not? Who says she has no training? It’s a plot point, not a message.

      1. So I’m right that they’re hinting at a budding interracial relationship. Abrams, an unapologetic SJW lefty, had a choice and he went the provocative route. Even black women don’t want to see their men dating whitey.

        The girl admits that she never flew the Millennium Falcon, noting that it hasn’t flown “in years.” But of course it all magically comes together for her as she steers it into and out of trouble while being pursued by two tie-fighters. Women’s intuition, I guess.

        1. And who has a problem with interracial relationships? Unless you’re an octogenarian or keep a white hood in your closet, it’s not provocative in the least. America’s longstanding issues with race won’t be solved by politicians or policies. They’ll be solved at the altar and in the bedroom. (Personally, I don’t have a problem with black women or whitey.)

          Aside from that, it’s long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Their ‘interracial’ relationships would be more along the lines of Hutt/Wookie nookie.

          A natural pilot (kind of goes with the Force) who takes apart old ships for a living wouldn’t know how to drive a freight truck like the Falcon?

          1. I didn’t care for the hinted at romantic sub-plot between Rey and Finn at all. I thought it was poorly handled and did little to add to the story up until the rescue from Starkiller Base, and I say this as someone with no issues regarding opposite races dating or getting married (dated opposite, my BIL is opposite, my niece is the world’s most beautiful baby, so no issues period). Maybe it was the acting, John Boyega was amazing as Finn and you could definitely feel his attraction to Rey in their scenes, but Daisy Ridley’s acting came across as flat when it came to “them”. Of course I found the character of Rey to be almost too Mary Sue-ish so that could be part of my problem with the romantic sub-plot. I mean they’d already made her into Luke Skywalker 2.0 basically, to start adding on Han Solo’s skill set as an ace pilot and ship’s mechanic seemed a bit much – it’s a good thing she’s not 6′ 6″ and hairy, they’d have killed off Chewbacca too…

            Anyway I think anyone who objects to the romance due to race is an idiot, personally. There are plenty of other reasons to object to the idea, like if it’s not handled well it unnecessarily distracts from the story itself which is an action/adventure yarn not a romance. That said there might be no reason to worry – John Boyega has hinted that Finn and Rey are just “friends” and that romance in VIII will be handled in a way that may surprise some folks. Finn/Poe maybe? (If Finn/Rey bugs people, Finn/Poe might just send them over the edge!)

          2. I got the impression that Rey was not exactly on the same page as Finn. He’s head over heels, she thinks he’s her best friend. (It happens to the best of us.)

            Poe/Finn, Rey/Chewy, just to screw with everyone.

  10. Still haven’t seen ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ (and I’ve attended the last 6 San Diego Comic-Cons). Why? Just wasn’t interested in another SW movie after the pre-quels which kind of ruined it for me. Word of mouth was it was basically a rewrite of the first movie. So why bother?
    Kind of looking forward to ‘Rouge’, but I’ll wait for word of mouth. If it takes the tone of the first movie where there were very few adherents to ‘The Force’ and it had practically died out I may see it. Particularly if the lead is along the lines of Solo’s original character. A criminal who knows how to survive in a tough business and will shoot first to save his hide.

    GB, I think, was doomed from the start by the decision to make it reboot as opposed to a remake- core fans don’t really want to see characters fundamental aspects change. Or the rules of that fictional universe rewritten. Everything after- bad trailer, studios bad reaction to it reception, comedy that wasn’t funny were just consequences of the original decision.

    ‘Oceans’ sequel could be pretty good. I’ll wait and see. I think the key will be adhering to the original idea- combining a major heist with revenge/personal conflict — while having characters that are women. Not just women forced into characters of males in prior movies. Fed up with 110 lb women being depicted as being able to defy the laws of physics in fights with 220 lb fit men. There’s a reason all fighting sports have weight categories. Women are pretty good at manipulating men without it having to go physical— that’s their home field advantage and clever con women stay on it. I think Jenny McCarthy could do a good job based on her character in ‘Two and Half Men’

    I think my favorite bada$$ female character in a movie was Helen Mirren’s role in the ‘Red’ movies. Sexiest line ever uttered on film ‘This is going to be fun!’

    1. If they had made it as a sequel…the ladies take over kinda of thing it might have worked (LadyGhosts, that is), but when they made it a reboot…and a lame one at that, well…

      I agree about Helen Mirren in the RED flicks…she’s both a hoot and very sexy in them.

    2. Feminist propagandists are braindead. If they were not, they wouldn’t be trying all these female-only movies.
      Here’s the deal: with only few exceptions, male-only movies are boring to watch. Even die hard action movies are much better when women play some significant roles in the movies.
      Why do these movie makers think female only movies will interest guys? or even women? Particularly when those female heroes are portrayed as doing some unbelievable acts (e.g. a 126-pound woman beating up 6 men at the same time, each weighing 200 pounds; and in the end she has no injuries whatsoever).
      Only braindead men and women would waste their money to go watch that joke of a movie.

  11. It’s the PC run amuck that sank LG…and it will sink this flick just as well. I won’t see it, nor will my wife. My daughter who is as feminist as they come (she wants all sorts of “Free stuff” from the gov’t) asked what kind of moron wants to lose even more money?

  12. I have zero problems with all-female remakes. Hollywood can make any movie it wants. It’s the politics that sucks.
    Why would I spend my hard earned money to get propagandized? Short answer: I won’t.
    Financial failure won’t stop future movies. There’s lots of billionaires willing to throw money at the cause.

  13. I really like that final quote “If you have a message, call Western Union”. I’m tired of Hollywood using movies as a platform for their own “personal politicized” messages. If you want to put a message to an audience, use music, we all know lyrics could stand to have A TON more meaning. I don’t need to be hit in the face with blatant pro-feminist propaganda; I’ve already received the message, I don’t need my entertainment to treat me like an idiot.

    tl;dr I’ve been receiving the same repetitive messages from Hollywood all my life, I don’t need this propaganda on repeat regardless of my views on the issue.

  14. i just watched the movie it …..the female was the most alpha out of all the males
    .women an’t like that in real life just a movie i guess, transformers the last knight was like ,what is the male role a side kick pasty weak male

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