Concept

CHICK FLICKS


"'Chick flicks' have often been put down as trite, sappy, emotional, soap-opera-ish, cliched, melodramatic, weepy, and trivial. Often considered an all-encompassing sub-genre, they mostly include dialogue-laden, formulated romantic comedies (with mis-matched lovers or female relationships), tearjerkers and gal-pal films, movies about family crises and emotional catharsis, some traditional 'weepies' and fantasy-action adventures, sometimes with foul-mouthed and empowered females, and female bonding situations involving families, mothers, daughters and children."
FILMSITE
edited by Tim Dirks

As much bad as can be said about the much-derided 'chick flick', who wouldn't want writing credit (and all that goes with it) for one of these titles . .

Chick flicks we have known . .
  • When Harry Met Sally (1989)
  • Desperately Seeking Susan (1985)
  • Pretty Woman (1990)
  • Bridget Jones's Diary (2001)
  • Steel Magnolias (1989)
  • Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  • Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Each one takes its place proudly in movie history, earning fans, praise, a real following (and ticket sales and other revenue). So what's the problem?

Any mother will tell you that her daughter will go see 'boy-movies' but her son will not go to see 'girl-movies'. So she ends up taking them both to see 'boy-movies' or loses half of her audience. The same holds true into adulthood: either make films that appeal to guys or cut out fifty percent of your market, making the producer think twice.

Even worse, not all of the women prefer 'em, either.

Why aren't women picking chick flicks?

Though the woman tends to pick the film, she wants the guy to come along--and might even expect him to buy the tickets. It might be said the whole movie industry depends on this interrelationship. While most women don't see the use in 'shoot 'em ups', guys avoid chick flicks like the plague, so she will often make the necessary compromise.

And then there are the ladies who are just plain tired of films supposedly dedicated to their sensibilities.

See what the ladies have to say about chick flicks . .

So you can't even be sure of attracting your so-called 'target demographic' anymore.

But consider some of the biggest movies of all-time . .

Some of the best-selling motion pictures ever have been stealth chick flicks. Consider . .

  • Gone With the Wind (1939)
  • Casablanca (1942)
  • Titanic (1997)

In fact, to make such a huge impact in movieland, you need to appeal broadly: to males and females (not to mention to young and old). The above films do this while cutting out much of the overly feminine fussiness that make chick flicks the bane of any real men out there.

What's the trick to appealing to both men and women?

The trick when writing a film centered around girls or women and their needs is simply to consider the male audience. Inner feelings, glamorous outfits, catty interplays, applying make-up, weight concerns, chocolate--these hold little appeal to the average male viewer. In fact they tend to turn him off.

What does he go for? Why, action, cars, guns, gizmoes, naked female bodies, fighting, war, destruction, of course.

Great male writers have long written from the female perspective.

Consider Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, etc. These writers showed remarkable perception and ingenuity to view life and love from the perspective of the opposite sex. And the book publishing industry of the day certainly appreciated it: most sales of novels were to women. Maybe it's time for female screenwriters to reverse the trick and try writing from the male perspective. Hollywood will be at your feet if you do.

So what works?

Love stories appeal more to women, war appeals more to men. Overlapping the two can make a powerful combination at the box office. The two most popular movies of all time, in terms of box office sales, operate on these two levels (see exercises below).

One crossover genre is the horror film, which the gals seem to go even crazier over than the guys. If you enjoy writing in this genre, have at it. May you be richly rewarded at the box office by droves of men and women, young and old.

BRIDESMAIDS (2011) proves that raunch might be just the trick these days (or is it that we need more 'weak female characters'?).


"Don't get me wrong, I do love a good chick flick. But when you are looking for a good time for all parties, an entertaining escape from your mundane life, and not a depressing reminder of failures, an action film is where it's at. There have been countless times that my group of good guy friends at home have dragged me to a movie I was sure I would hate, only to come out loving it."
MARGARET MARRER


See also . .


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EXERCISES:
  1. Consider the "Top Grossing Movies of All Time at the USA Box Office". How many "chick flicks" are there? How are they handled?
  2. Consider a list of "chick flicks", or make out a list of your favorites. How many have won awards? What sort of awards are they?
  3. Watch GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) starring Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh. How does it appeal to both men and women? Where does it rank in terms of top-grossing movies of all time?
  4. See TITANIC (1997) starring Leonardo DiCaprio. How does it appeal to both men and women, young and old? Where does it rank in terms of top-grossing movies of all time?