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Oscar Features and Shorts Boost Weekend Specialty Box Office

  • Indiewire
Oscar Features and Shorts Boost Weekend Specialty Box Office
The bulk of specialized business continues to come from the usual Oscar contenders that have dominated the scene for months now. The annual package of Oscar nominated shorts proved the strongest new opener this weekend.

Among limited releases, an exclusive showing of last year’s Sundance entry “Golden Exits” (Vertical) leads the field. It remains to be seen what happens to the business when these run out of steam before long in most cases.

As a reminder that winning an Oscar does not guarantee audience good will for future openers, Indian/American anti-corporate musical “Basmati Blues” (Shout! Factory) starring Brie Larson (“Room”) managed only around $8,000 in 10 theaters.

After making a big Super Bowl splash with the unexpected dropping of “The Cloverfield Paradox” after the game, Netflix opened three movies this weekend, but only one (Sundance documentary debut “Seeing Allred”) in theaters. Last year’s Toronto premiere “The Ritual” and romantic
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Film Review: ‘The Peacemaker’

Padraig O’Malley, the backroom world-trouble-spot negotiator who’s the title figure of James Demo’s documentary “The Peacemaker,” is a man engaged in a mission so arduous and noble that just hearing about it can put you in an earnest school daze. O’Malley travels around the globe, staging conferences in which he brokers dialogue between the feuding factions of places like Bosnia and Israel and South Africa and Iraq. His approach is therapeutic: Instead of having the two sides of a dispute lock horns and debate their fatal differences, he encourages them to sit down and schmooze; he gets them to humanize each other. (He first attempted this 40 years ago, in response to the cataclysm of the Irish conflict, and lo and behold, it worked.)

In no way does it trivialize the importance of these international upheavals to say that when “The Peacemaker” shows us O’Malley seated at the conference table, surrounded by 20 bureaucratic
See full article at Variety - Film News »

Cynthia Bailey Learns Boyfriend Will Jones Had Another Girlfriend: 'I Don't Want to Be Played'

Cynthia Bailey Learns Boyfriend Will Jones Had Another Girlfriend: 'I Don't Want to Be Played'
Cynthia Bailey and Will Jones’ budding romance hit a major stumbling block on Sunday’s Real Housewives of Atlanta when she learned that her businessman beau was dating another woman at the beginning of their relationship.

The revelation came at a party celebrating Kandi Burruss’ Essence cover, where new Friend of the Housewives (and former America’s Next Top Model winner Eva Marcille) recalled meeting Jones when he was with another woman.

“ met Will at a really nice cigar bar and we met his girlfriend,” Marcille told pal NeNe Leakes. “Now, you know, relationships might die so they might have broken up that night.
See full article at PEOPLE.com »

Cinemas and allocated seating: the pros and cons

Simon Brew Jan 29, 2018

Cinemas increasingly want to sell you an exact seat, with an exact number. A good or bad thing?

Cast your mind back to the opening weekend of DreamWorks’ colour explosion, Trolls. It’s a decent enough film, that I never have much urge to rewatch, but my offspring do. The news that Trolls 2 is on the way was greeted with some joy by them too.

At the time it came out, my youngest was three years old. By this time, he enjoyed the cinema, but I kept him primarily to the cheaper kids club screenings. He was adamant he wanted to see Trolls, though, and thus we booked tickets – and crucially seats – for the first Sunday afternoon it was on. We booked a seat up against a wall for him, on the off chance he got tempted to go walkies. He might be three, but it
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31 underrated movies well worth a look

Simon Brew Aug 18, 2017

Looking for a film to watch, that you might not have considered before? Try some of these...

Sometimes, we figure, you come to a site like this just to find out about a film you didn’t know about. That you want recommendations of movies that you might not otherwise have uncovered. This list, then, has no theme, save that the films on it are really good, and didn’t get much of an audience first time around. That, or they seem to have been forgotten. It’s a real mix, but hopefully, there’s something on here that appeals..

The Brady Bunch Movie

The Brady Bunch films never really seemed to do much business in the UK, and that’s a real pity. No foreknowledge of the series is required, and the first movie takes the Brady film and transplants them into 1990s America, with no
See full article at Den of Geek »

Felicity Jones will play the Notorious Rbg in new biopic by ‘The Leftovers’ director Mimi Leder – yes please!

Felicity Jones will play the Notorious Rbg in new biopic by ‘The Leftovers’ director Mimi Leder – yes please!
Our sister site Deadline has exclusively reported that Felicity Jones will play the starring role as Ruth Bader Ginsburg in the upcoming film “On the Basis of Sex,” which will be directed by Mimi Leder, whose previous credits include the films “The Peacemaker” and “Deep Impact” as well as “ER” and “The Leftovers.” This will […]
See full article at Gold Derby »

Felicity Jones Set to Play Young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Mimi Leder’s ‘On the Basis of Sex’

Felicity Jones Set to Play Young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Mimi Leder’s ‘On the Basis of Sex’
Oscar nominee and “Star Wars” heroine Felicity Jones is jumping back into prestige pictures with a hot property all about one of modern America’s most notable female leaders. Deadline reports that Jones will star as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in Mimi Leder’s “On the Basis of Sex,” based on Daniel Stiepleman’s Black List script of the same name.

Per the outlet, “the drama follows the travails of Ginsburg as she faced numerous obstacles to her fight for equal rights throughout her career.” It it set to shoot in Montreal in September. Stiepleman’s script was an entry on the 2014 Black List of most liked unproduced scripts.

Read MoreFelicity Jones Explains Why the ‘Rogue One’ Team Insisted Her Costume Wasn’t Sexualized

Back in 2015, Natalie Portman was tapped to star in the film for Focus Features, and that version was set to be directed by “Diary
See full article at Indiewire »

The troubled production of DreamWorks’ first film

Simon Brew Jun 14, 2017

DreamWorks launched in a blaze of publicity – but its first film, The Peacemaker, was beset by problems…

Not since United Artists had launched in the 1930s had Hollywood seen anything quite like it. Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg – a trio with a lot of money and a big contacts book between them – came together to launch the first new studio in a generation. It was called DreamWorks Skg, and it was not short on ambition.

Katzenberg would be heading up its animation arm, and soon got to work, with the likes of Antz and The Prince Of Egypt getting things going. But on the live action side, the assumption that Spielberg would exclusively make his films for the studio quickly proved false. Post-the formation of DreamWorks, his first movie as director would instead be The Lost World: Jurassic Park for Universal. Only then would he
See full article at Den of Geek »

What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 5: 2000–2017

Mira Nair and Ava DuVernay: Wikimedia Commons/IndiaFM/Bollywoodhungama/usbotschaftberlin

by Carrie Rickey

This five-part Truthdig series by Carrie Rickey is published in partnership with Women and Hollywood. The series considers the historic accomplishments of women behind the camera, how they got marginalized, and how they are fighting for equal employment. Specifically, this series asks, why do females make up between 33 and 50 percent of film-school graduates but account for only seven percent of working directors? What happened to the women directors in Hollywood?

Female filmmakers greeted the 21st century with optimism. By most measures, movies by women were garnering increased respect in the industry and at the multiplex. Their makers cracked glass ceilings, created new genres, and established new box-office records.

With “Nowhere in Africa” (2001), Caroline Link became the second woman to direct the Oscar-winner for the year’s best foreign film. With “Lost in Translation” (2003), Sofia Coppola was the third woman to receive a best director nomination from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. And with “The Hurt Locker” (2009), Kathryn Bigelow was the fourth woman nominated in the directing category — and the first to win. The following year, Danish filmmaker Susanna Bier directed the winner in the best foreign film category, “In a Better World.”

Gina Prince-Bythewood’s “Love & Basketball” (2000), Karyn Kusama’s “Girlfight” (2000) and Gurinder Chadha’s “Bend It Like Beckham” (2003) created what might be called the “Title IX” movie, celebrating female athletes on the court, in the ring, and on the field. These are sports movies that celebrate the female body — not for its sex appeal, but for its power. These films inspired younger women (and their mothers were thrilled to take them to movies that didn’t objectify women).

Comedies by women continued to make serious box office, proving the Hollywood wisdom that “funny is money.” Nancy Meyers’ “What Women Want” (2000), starring Mel Gibson as a player briefly given the power to hear what women think about him, made $374 million. Sharon Maguire’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary” (2001), in which the title character says what she thinks about womanizers and prigs, brought in $282 million. Movies like these permitted men and women to laugh at men’s foibles.

From Patricia Cardoso’s “Real Women Have Curves” (2002), which introduced America Ferrera as a college-bound Latina, to Julie Taymor’s biopic “Frida” (2003), with Salma Hayek as Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, to Patty Jenkins’ “Monster” (2003), with Charlize Theron as serial killer Aileen Wuornos, audiences saw realistic women — as opposed to human swizzle sticks with breasts — in movies by women.

Many critics hailed Niki Caro’s “Whale Rider” (2003), about a Maori preteen who challenges her tribal patriarchy and becomes the new chief, as a harbinger of the triumph of female filmmakers over the status quo. Others pointed to the fact that for the first time since records had been kept, in 2000 women made 11 percent of the top 250 box office films. For women who make movies, the new century felt like a new day.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sadly, that encouraging percentage turned out to be a fluke. After 2000, the number dwindled. It remains stuck in the 6 to 9 percent range, says Martha Lauzen, professor of communications and head of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University. Since 1998 Lauzen has tracked women working in the industry in her annual “Celluloid Ceiling” report.

“When I started this, I thought it was merely an issue of people not knowing how low the numbers were,” Lauzen said ruefully. “I didn’t know how slow social change is.”

Lauzen’s reporting represents one of three vital resources for understanding the triumphs female filmmakers have made and how far they need to go to achieve parity with men. The others are Stacy Smith’s Media Diversity and Social Change Institute at USC’s Annenberg School and The Bunche Center at UCLA.

Collectively and individually, these creators of annual good news/bad news reports have kept the issue of representation in the public eye.

The Good: For Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty”), the late Nora Ephron (“Julie & Julia”), and Nancy Meyers (“It’s Complicated,” “The Intern”), the 21st century has been a fruitful time. So, too, for younger female moviemakers. Consider Lisa Cholodenko (“Laurel Canyon,” “The Kids Are All Right”), Ava DuVernay (“Selma,” “13th”), and Mira Nair (“Monsoon Wedding,” “The Namesake”).

Consider also that Catherine Hardwicke established a franchise with “Twilight” (which made $393 million), Sam Taylor-Johnson created another with “50 Shades of Grey” ($571 million), and that Anne Fletcher’s “The Proposal” made $317 million and Phyllida Lloyd’s “Mamma Mia!” earned $609 million.

Additionally, filmmakers like Dee Rees (“Pariah”), Debra Granik (“Winter’s Bone”), and Lone Scherfig (“An Education”) broke into the market with unique visions and eyes for new talent, including Adepero Oduye, Jennifer Lawrence, and Carey Mulligan. Significantly, Vicky Jenson (“Shrek”), Jennifer Lee (“Frozen”), Jennifer Yuh Nelson (“Kung Fu Panda 2”), and Brenda Chapman (“Brave”) staked a place for women in animation.

The Bad: For every woman appearing onscreen in movies in 2015 there were 2.3 men, according to Stacy Smith’s Media Diversity & Social Change Initiative.

The Ugly: When Walt Hickey, culture reporter for the website fivethirtyeight.com, goes to the movies and sees the screen population is 69 percent male, it just looks wrong to him. “It’s like something apocalyptic has happened, like a parallel universe — a man’s world,” he says.

Both Lauzen’s and Smith’s data show that when a woman is behind the camera and/or screenplay, 39 percent of protagonists are female. In movies by male directors, only four percent of the lead characters are female.

A century ago, male dominance behind the camera and on the screen was not the norm. For women behind the camera, it’s been the norm since 1920. And for women onscreen, it’s been the norm since 1950. Because of this, moviegoers have a distorted picture of America as predominantly male and predominantly Caucasian, when it is neither. (For finer-grain data on minority representation, see this annual report from UCLA’s Bunche Center.)

The Force Reawakens

The Hollywood Dream Factory tailors the majority of its product to the measurements of the men in the audience. This troubles those who want their daughters to partake of the same professional opportunities, cultural representation, and dream lives as their sons. While “Nine to Five,” “Norma Rae,” and “Erin Brockovich” show that studios love stories of women who triumph over the odds, there is less obvious love for female filmmakers trying to beat the odds stacked against them in their professional lives.

Since the Original Six filed suit against two studios in 1983 (see Part 3), female filmmakers have met, strategized, and troubleshot. So much so that in one of her final essays before her death in 2012, Nora Ephron made a list of “Things I Won’t Miss.” Near the top: “Panels on Women in Film.” Many women in film felt as though they were running in place.

“Instead of holding a million panels about it,” Christine Vachon, producer of “Boys Don’t Cry” and “Carol,” exclaimed at the 2016 Sundance Festival, “let’s do something about it!”

Someone had. She is Maria Giese, director of the feature films “When Saturday Comes” and “Hunger.” In February 2013 she brought a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (Eeoc) in Los Angeles. Her contention was that the cohort of working filmmakers in the Directors Guild of America (DGA), of which she is a member, was overwhelmingly male.

(While the number of women in the guild directing episodic television amounts to 17 percent, the DGA 2015 census of female filmmakers registered 6.4 percent. That’s lower than the nine percent of female coal miners, and fractional next to the 32 percent of practicing physicians and 36 percent of practicing lawyers who are women).

The Eeoc, which collects data on employer/employee relations for each calendar year, was reluctant to take on a class-action suit.

In April 2013, Giese contacted the Aclu of Southern California and showed the evidence to Melissa Goodman, director of its Lgbtq, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project. For the next two years Goodman and her colleague Ariela Migdal took testimony from more than 50 female directors. In May 2015 they sent the Eeoc an extraordinary letter that counted the ways in which “female filmmakers are effectively excluded from directing big-budget films and seriously underrepresented in television.” A compelling argument in their letter: “The entertainment industry employs many people and makes products that profoundly shape our culture and the perception of women and girls.” Later in 2015, the Eeoc commenced its own investigation.

In January 2017, based on a high-level internal DGA leak received by Giese, Deadline Hollywood reported that after a federal investigation spanning a year that included testimony from over 100 women directors, the Eeoc recently served charges of sex discrimination and unfair hiring practice against all six major studios. While the federal agency does not comment on active cases, Gillian Thomas and Melissa Goodman of the Aclu wrote in an editorial that they had no reason to doubt the veracity of the leak.

A key factor contributing to Giese’s success in getting this issue to the Aclu and Eeoc was her ability to expose the structural obstacles female filmmakers face, from a guild that puts female and minority filmmakers in the same category, to the studios that question the fitness of women to direct.

Myths and Continued Underrepresentation

Over the 25 years I’ve reported on female filmmakers, I’ve interviewed two generations of movie executives. Most, but not all, were male. Most took seriously my questions about the apparent exclusion of women behind the camera, both on the screen and their forthcoming line-up.

Without exception, all of them retold one or more of the “Three Hollywood Myths.”

Myth #1) “Women don’t want to direct action movies and those are the films which are making money.”

Untrue. See: Martha Coolidge’s “Real Genius” (1985), Kathryn Bigelow’s “Point Break” (1991), Mimi Leder’s “The Peacemaker” (1997) and “Deep Impact” (1998), Lexi Alexander’s “Punisher: War Zone” (2008), and Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” (2009) and “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012).

What is true is that Patty Jenkins was hired to direct “Thor: The Dark World” (2013) and left due to creative differences. She is now working on the forthcoming “Wonder Woman.”

What is true is that Mira Nair was offered a “Harry Potter” film and chose instead to make the family drama “The Namesake” because the material was more important to her, and that Ava DuVernay was offered “Black Panther,” the film version of the Marvel Comics series, and declined for similar reasons.

Myth #2) “Movies by women don’t make money.”

Untrue again. Some movies by women don’t make back their investment, just as some movies by men do not. What is true is that many movies by women make major bank. Catherine Hardwicke’s little $37 million film “Twilight” grossed $393 million and launched a billion-dollar franchise.

Hardwicke told me by phone that she hears all the time from studios that films by women are poor investments. “And every time you say, ‘Well, this one made money, that one made money,’ they say, ‘This one made money because it was based on a best-selling book,’ or ‘That one made money because of its hot actress.’”

Here are six more films by women and their box-office grosses. They made money because they powerfully connected with audiences.

Bend it Like Beckham” (Gurinder Chadha). Cost: $6 million/Gross: $77 million“Frida” (Julie Taymor). Cost: $12 million/Gross: $56 million“Frozen” (Jennifer Lee). Cost: $150 million/Gross: $1.2 billion“The Proposal” (Anne Fletcher). Cost: $40 million/Gross: $317 million“Selma” (Ava DuVernay). Cost: $20 million/Gross $67 million“Lost in Translation” (Sofia Coppola). Cost: $4 million/Gross $120 million

Myth #3) “A woman behind the camera means women on the screen and no men in the audience.”

Untrue, if taken literally. Sometimes movies by women have a lower percentage of men in the audience, just as sometimes movies by men have a lower percentage of women in the audience. Take, for example, the 2015 films, “Bridge of Spies” by Steven Spielberg and “The Intern” by Nancy Meyers.

According to Paul Dergarabedian of comScore, the research company’s “PostTrak” data shows the audience gender breakdown at “Bridge of Spies,” a ’60s-era political thriller starring Tom Hanks, was 54 percent male and 46 percent female. For “The Intern,” a contemporary workplace comedy co-starring Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, it was 41 percent male and 59 percent female. Spielberg’s film grossed $165 million; Meyers’ $194 million. His budget was $40 million; hers was $35 million.

Ava DuVernay’s “Selma,” the story of the 1965 march for voting rights led by Martin Luther King and starring David Oyelowo, had an audience gender breakdown of 47 percent male and 53 percent female. The assumption that movies come gendered with a blue or pink ribbon is a canard that still lingers in Hollywood, perhaps a vestige of the target marketing that began in the 1980s.

Speaking from the set of “Queen Sugar” in 2016, DuVernay observed, “We’re in a place right now where every other film is about a comic book superhero. We’re top-heavy with testosterone.”

How did Hollywood, a century ago a place where female directors thrived and prospered, come to this?

Stacy Title, director of “The Last Supper” and “The Bye Bye Man,” points the finger at “unconscious bias.”

Mira Nair, who was born in India, suspects chauvinism. “I’ve always remarked at the irony that the percentage of female directors is higher in India than in the United States,” she explained in a phone conversation. “India is supposed to be the traditional chauvinist culture,” she observes. Nair wonders if the historic examples of female prime ministers in South Asia — Indira Gandhi in India, Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan — may have broken the glass ceiling for all professional women there. “Their examples don’t exist in the U.S.”

DuVernay looks forward to the outcome — and hoped-for positive resolution — of the Eeoc investigation. “It’s a systematic problem and it requires radical change,” she said. “If it’s not happening organically, systems should be put in place.” Like many female filmmakers, DuVernay hopes the Eeoc can reconfigure what Giese calls the “vertical playing field for women” into a level one.

“One thing I’m heartened by,” said Nair, who’s been making features for nearly 30 years, “is that the variety and confidence of female filmmakers today is inspiring.”

Do others think it’s changed for the better for women since the 1980s?

“For me, there’s no comparison between the ’80s and now,” reflected Nancy Meyers, whose six films as a director or writer/director have grossed more than a billion dollars. By email she wrote:

Men were still getting used to us being on set in the ’80s. (Men used to have photos of pinups on the set in the ’80s! I’m not kidding.)The only women around back then worked in costumes and hair and makeup. Today women are in every department and often department heads. There are still very few women in the camera department and that’s a shame. That seems to still be a real boy’s club. Today, most crew members are far more comfortable working for and with women.

Yet one thing has not changed: “Now, getting the job to be the director — that’s still an uphill battle,” Meyers said.

In addition to writing film reviews and essays for Truthdig, Carrie Rickey has been a film critic at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Village Voice, and an art critic at Artforum and Art in America. Rickey has taught at various institutions, including School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, and has appeared frequently on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” MSNBC, and CNN.

What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 5: 2000–2017 was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 4: 1984–1999

Mississippi Masala

by Carrie Rickey

This five-part Truthdig series by Carrie Rickey is published in partnership with Women and Hollywood. The series considers the historic accomplishments of women behind the camera, how they got marginalized, and how they are fighting for equal employment. Specifically, this series asks, why do females make up between 33 and 50 percent of film-school graduates but account for only seven percent of working directors? What happened to the women directors in Hollywood?

While female filmmakers waited for Judge Pamela Rymer to hand down a decision in the 1983 Directors Guild class-action suit against Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures, alleging discrimination for not hiring women and ethnic minorities represented by the guild, there were positive signs of change in Hollywood.

In 1984, for the first time that almost anyone could remember, one needed two hands to count the number of feature films by women released in the U.S. market. One was Diane Kurys’ “Entre Nous” (1983), nominated for best foreign film at the Academy Awards in April 1984, making Kurys the second female director whose film was so honored.

Between 1950 and 1980, the number of movies directed by women in the Directors Guild of America (DGA) totaled 14. From 1984 to 1985 there were 12.

In 1984 many women were making their second features. Among them were Gillian Armstrong’s period drama “Mrs. Soffel,” Amy Heckerling’s gangster comedy “Johnny Dangerously,” Penelope Spheeris’ teenage-runaway saga “Suburbia,” and Amy Holden Jones’ romantic drama “Love Letters.” Martha Coolidge, beloved for “Valley Girl,” her 1983 debut, was on her third feature, “National Lampoon’s Joy of Sex.” With more women behind the movie camera in the United States than any time since the ’teens, it seemed that Hollywood was reopening the studio gates to women. Their movies featured women in lead roles.

The wave of optimism crested in 1985. Argentine director Maria Luisa Bemberg’s historical romance “Camila” (1984) was in contention for best foreign film. Susan Seidelman, an Nyu film-school grad who made a splash in 1983 with the indie “Smithereens,” released “Desperately Seeking Susan,” starring “It Girl” Rosanna Arquette and Madonna, cast when the latter was a relative unknown. It was a runaway hit. Heckerling and Spheeris each released third features, respectively “National Lampoon’s European Vacation” and “The Boys Next Door.” Coolidge released her fourth: “Real Genius,” a genuinely funny nerd comedy with a fully developed female character — and special effects.

Then came the crash.

In August 1985 Judge Rymer handed down her decision. While the class-action case was important and viable, Rymer ruled, she had to disqualify the DGA from leading the class due to a conflict of interest. White male members also competing for directing jobs dominated the guild, she said. Thus the DGA was in no position to represent the interests of its women and ethnic minority members. Out of exhaustion and lack of money, the Original Six, the group of female filmmakers that had first spurred the DGA to initiate the suit, did not pursue it any further.

As the DGA suit played out during the early 1980s, Hollywood’s business model was in flux. Studios abandoned the one-size-fits-all strategy of advertising a movie in general-interest publications and embraced segmented marketing — that is, making and marketing movies to a specific demographic. Fewer dollars were spent advertising movies in mainstream newspapers and more were spent on ads that ran during TV shows young males were said to watch. More and more, movies starred predominantly men and boys. Because actors had higher-profile roles, they could command higher salaries than actresses.

By dividing the market into sectors, studios divided the audience and the culture. Boys see movies about boys. Older people see movies about older people. Women see movies about women. Those in different demographics no longer watch the same stories.

In 1980, four of the 10 top box office stars were women: Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Sissy Spacek, and Barbra Streisand. In 1990 there was only one: Julia Roberts. According to 1990 statistics from the Screen Actors Guild, not only were actresses underpaid, but they were also “undercast”: 14 percent of the leading roles, and only 29 percent of all roles, went to women.

The “Indiana Jones” trilogy made in the 1980s reflected the progressively diminishing role of females in film during a decade when male action/adventures dominated the multiplex. In “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), the character Marion Ravenwood (Karen Allen) plays Indy’s helpmate. In “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984), the Willie Scott character (Kate Capshaw) is helpless. And in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” archeologist Elsa Schneider (Alison Doody) is the enemy.

Despite such trends, the late 1980s and 1990s proved to be boom years for female directors in Hollywood and Indiewood, as independent film is known. In 1987, Kathryn Bigelow, a onetime sculptor and graduate of Columbia University’s film program, made her second feature, the “vampire Western” “Near Dark.” And though Elaine May’s studio film “Ishtar” was almost universally panned upon release, it earned belated respect. Richard Brody of The New Yorker correctly described it as “an unjustly derided masterwork.” In 1987, six percent of films were directed by women, higher than at any time since 1916.

The percentage dropped in 1988, but that was a watershed year for female filmmakers. “Big,” a comedy from Penny Marshall (co-written by Anne Spielberg), was universally acclaimed. It was the first movie directed by a woman that surpassed $100 million at the box office. With the romantic comedy “Crossing Delancey,” Joan Micklin Silver returned to making big-screen fare, and her modest hit was well received. Also in 1988, Silver’s daughter, Marisa, made her second feature, “Permanent Record,” about teen suicide. “Salaam, Bombay!”, the first feature from Mira Nair, the India-born, Harvard-educated documentarian, was a best foreign film Oscar nominee.

The following year, “Look Who’s Talking” from Amy Heckerling likewise surpassed the $100 million mark for box office sales in the U.S. and made nearly $300 million worldwide. For the most part, though, heads of studios regarded Marshall’s and Heckerling’s box-office smashes as flukes. Two heads of production told me in 1991 that “movies by women don’t make money.” Nevertheless, it turned out to be a exceptional year for the quality and range of releases from women. And it shaped up to be a year when movies by female filmmakers did make serious money.

Some of the highlights of 1991: Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust,” an evocative portrait of generations of Gullah women off the South Carolina coast circa 1901; Jodie Foster’s “Little Man Tate,” about a child prodigy emotionally torn between his mother and a psychologist for gifted children; and Mira Nair’s “Mississippi Masala,” a sexy romance about a South Asian woman born in Uganda (played by then-newcomer Sarita Choudhry) in love with an African-American man (Denzel Washington). Both Kathryn Bigelow’s action film “Point Break” and Barbra Streisand’s psychological study “Prince of Tides” examined the emotional costs to men who struggle to prove their masculinity. Bigelow’s movie grossed $83 million and Streisand’s $110 million. (Adjusted for inflation, that’s $148 million and $196 million in today’s dollars.)

Not only can female filmmakers make movies that show a different side of men, but they also make movies that show different aspects of women. Penny Marshall’s “A League of Their Own” (1992), about the All-American Girls Baseball Leagues during World War II, celebrates the athleticism (rather than the sexuality) of the female body. Nora Ephron’s “This is My Life,” her 1992 directorial debut about a single mom whose choice of comedy career affects her daughters, shows that career and motherhood need not be in conflict. Like Ephron’s film, Allison Anders’ “Gas Food Lodging” (also 1992) explores what happens when the children of single moms reconnect with biological fathers. Male directors were, and are not, making movies like these.

During the 1990s, almost every year brought a new evergreen made by a female filmmaker. In 1993 there were two. One was Jane Campion’s “The Piano,” a haunting allegory about a mute woman that struck a chord internationally. It earned $62 million at the box office and multiple Oscar nominations, including one for best director, making Campion the third woman to be cited in this category. The other was Nora Ephron’s “Sleepless in Seattle,” the comedic romance between two people who don’t meet in person until the last scene, which scored a $227 million box office.

“Sleepless” additionally introduced the questionable concept of the “chick flick” to a broader audience. This is a non-genre that has come to be defined as any movie that, according to the term’s proponents, women want to see and that men think they don’t want to watch — or any movie directed by a woman. The division between “chick flick” and its corollary, the “dick flick,” is a perhaps unintended consequence of target marketing, implying that movies represent a gender-linked proposition.

Almost overnight, the perception was created that movies predominantly featuring women, or “women’s interests,” or directed by women would shrivel the manhood of the male moviegoer. In 1994 the head of a major studio told me, without irony or shame, that “Women on the screen means no men in the audience.” When I asked him for data to back up his claim, he said he had it, but it was proprietary.

Despite such signs of cultural and corporate sexism, the 1990s were a good time to be a female filmmaker. In 1994, Gillian Armstrong’s “Little Women” was immediately embraced as a classic. Newcomer Darnell Martin’s “I Like it Like That,” an urban comedy about a working mother juggling job, marriage, and parenthood, earned positive reviews. And Rose Troche’s “Go Fish,” the first indie comedy about girl-on-girl courtship, marked a milestone for the burgeoning genre.

The following year, 16 films by women were in U.S. release, setting another record for that era. Many of them were comedies. There was Amy Heckerling’s “Clueless,” a droll version of Jane Austen’s “Emma” set at a Beverly Hills high school. There is Betty Thomas’ “The Brady Bunch Movie,” in which the former actress sets the characters of the 1970s TV hit in the 1990s to great comic effect. Distinctly not a comedy was Kathryn Bigelow’s “Strange Days,” a science-fiction thriller about sex crimes, which lost money but became a cult favorite. At the 1996 Oscar ceremony, with “Antonia’s Line,” Dutch filmmaker Marleen Gorris became the first female filmmaker to direct the award-winning foreign film.

But apart from Bigelow and Mimi Leder, a director of episodic television who in 1997 directed “The Peacemaker” and in 1998 “Deep Impact,” female filmmakers were not making action films. For the most part women made comedies and human stories, movies with no explosions in the opening scene. Veteran filmmaker Martha Coolidge spoke for many women when she noted that the scripts the studios sent her were for comedies or family dramas. “About 90 percent of what comes my way are ten different kinds of breast cancer stories, ten kinds of divorce stories, and ten kinds of women-taking-care-of-their-fathers stories,” she said. “I do those. I care about those deeply. But one does want to do more.”

Female filmmakers were typecast in the way many actors and actresses have been, for the most part pigeonholed in family drama and comedy genres. For example, in 1997 actress Kasi Lemmons made her directorial debut with “Eve’s Bayou,” a haunting family drama, and Betty Thomas returned with the Howard Stern biopic “Private Parts.” In 1998, Ephron returned with the romantic comedy “You’ve Got Mail.” Nancy Meyers, a long-time screenwriter, made her directorial debut with the family-friendly comedy “The Parent Trap,” and Brenda Chapman, a Disney animator, was one of three directors on “Prince of Egypt,” the animated story of Moses.

In 1999, three female filmmakers made rookie features unlike anything in American movies. Two were romantic dramas about teenage sexuality, the other an imaginative Shakespeare adaptation. Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides,” based on the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, looked at how boys look at girls, subversively turning the female gaze on the male gaze. Kimberly Peirce’s “Boys Don’t Cry” dramatized the life story of Teena Brandon, who changed her name and gender to become Brandon Teena and fell victim to a hate crime.

Julie Taymor, the theater director who created “The Lion King” on stage, made her movie debut with “Titus,” an anachronistic version of the Shakespeare history play “Titus Andronicus,” underscoring its parallels to Italy under Mussolini.

At the end of the decade — and century — of the 11,000 filmmakers working both in television and film included in the Directors Guild of America, about 2,300 were women. While women made up 21 percent of the membership, they comprised only 9 percent of the filmmakers working in movies.

Most, including Martha Lauzen, a professor at San Diego State University and the head of the Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television, naturally assumed that in the new century the needle would move toward 50/50.

In addition to writing film reviews and essays for Truthdig, Carrie Rickey has been a film critic at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Village Voice, and an art critic at Artforum and Art in America. Rickey has taught at various institutions, including School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania, and has appeared frequently on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” MSNBC, and CNN.

What Happened to the Women Directors in Hollywood? Part 4: 1984–1999 was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
See full article at Women and Hollywood »

Scully & Mfr Assign Directors For Man Of Steel 2, The Flash, & Captain Marvel!

  • LRM Online
Welcome back to another edition of Fantasy Fridays, where two lifelong fanboys and real-life best friends take a peak ahead at upcoming geek properties and "hire" the talent for them. Last week, we kicked this feature off with our fantasy picks for Ben Affleck's The Batman. You can check last week's out by clicking below:

Scully & Mfr Cast The Batman

This week? We set our sights on upcoming flicks that have been announced, yet don't have directors officially attached to them.

First up:

Man Of Steel 2 Mfr's Pick: Brad Bird

"Bird, who comes from Pixar- which has always had a great reputation for balancing heart, humor, and spectacle- first caught my eye with The Incredibles. I loved the retro feel, the adventurous tone, and the way it had fun with superhero conventions while still having a lot of genuine emotion at its core. For a while, though, thought of him as a 'cartoon guy,
See full article at LRM Online »

14 times similar movies went head to head at the box office

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Deep Impact Vs Armageddon is not the only time similar movies have landed around the same time...

Usually, a competing project is poison for a studio. Especially in the era now where a blockbuster costs the national budget of a small country to get out into the world, you don't want to be up against a film with similar subject matter.

Yet this keeps happening, time and time again. Even now, there are two live action Jungle Book movies in various stages of production, for example. And let us not forget when K-9 and Turner And Hooch once did battle...

But how have the movie showdowns of old turned out? And are there any instances where everyone's a winner?

Er, not many as it happens...

The Haunting Vs The House On Haunted Hill

Let's start with two reasonably budgeted horror films, that both got wide releases. Jan De Bont
See full article at Den of Geek »

Trio Up For "Tomb Raider" Film Reboot

A new report suggests that a trio of acclaimed female filmmakers have made the short list to take the helm of the "Tomb Raider" reboot which is being fast-tracked by Warner Bros., MGM, Gk Films and Eidos Interactive.

The Tracking Board says that Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Catherine Hardwicke ("Twilight") and Mimi Leder ("The Peacemaker") have made the short list as a replacement for the previously attached Tricia Brock.

Brock is a prolific TV director who has worked on numerous high profile cable shows including "The Walking Dead" and "Girls," however she's officially passed on the project.

Evan Daugherty penned the script which follows archeologist Lara Croft as she travels the globe seeking priceless artifacts. The franchise previously delivered two films with Angelina Jolie in the title role.

It's expected the new film will be like the acclaimed recent "Tomb Raider" game reboot, a much darker and more grounded
See full article at Dark Horizons »

Tomb Raider: three directors on the shortlist for reboot

Kathryn Bigelow leads the shortlist of potential directors for the new Lara Croft movie.

The big screen reboot of the Tomb Raider franchise is still in development, with Gk Films, Warner Bros, MGM and Eidos Interactive all partnering on the project.

There had been reports that Tricia Brock was set to direct the new film, building on hew small screen work across the likes of Girls and The Walking Dead. But The Tracking Board now says she's passed on the film, and that a new shortlist of directors has been drawn up. Quite a shortlist, too.

Thus far, there are three names on it.

Kathyrn Bigelow is a firm favourite of ours, for her work across Strange Days, Point Break and The Hurt Locker. Then there's the director of the original Twilight film, Catherine Hardwicke. And finally, Mimi Leder, who helmed Deep Impact and The Peacemaker, is also on the list.
See full article at Den of Geek »

Today in Movie History: Deep Impact Opens Before Armageddon in Asteroid Movie Race

Hollywood ripping itself off is nothing new. In fact, at this very moment, we have two Jungle Book movies in production, and no less than four takes on Robin Hood in development at various studios. Of course it’s only natural for competition to set in when a “hot” idea gets traction, though some similarly plotted films are borne out of more duplicitous motives than others (see: Antz vs. A Bugs Life). But one of the most memorable “dueling movies” of the past couple decades came in 1998, which saw the release of two films in which an object from space is hurtling towards Earth, and only a team of astronauts can stop it. It’s fitting, then, that we look back on this event today, since Deep Impact was released in theaters exactly 17 years ago on May 7, 1998. [caption id="attachment_455463" align="alignright" width="360"] Image via Paramount Pictures/caption] Directed by Mimi Leder, who was just
See full article at Collider.com »

21 mainly forgotten Us number 1 movies from the 1990s

The 1990s: a time when Sleepwalkers, Burt Reynolds, No Escape, Chevy Chase and F/X/2 could top the Us box office...

By the 1990s, studios were waking up to movie marketing, and the era of the blockbuster. Tim Burton's Batman, released in summer 1989, had introduced the idea of a big opening weekend, and modern movies now target their promotional work to get just that. As such, it's harder and harder for smaller films to snare the top slot at the Us box office, even for one weekend.

In the 1990s, particularly the first half of the 1990s, that wasn't so much the case though. In fact, many films that have long since fallen from the public conscious topped the chart. And in this piece, I've tried to capture some of them.

Inevitably, you're going to have heard of some of them, and what a UK dweller sees as a
See full article at Den of Geek »

Indie Spotlight

We’re back with another edition of the Indie Spotlight, highlighting recent independent horror news sent our way. Today’s feature has first details on multiple projects including Night of the Living Deb, The Broadcast, Dial 9 to Get Out, and House of Forbidden Secrets, a monster themed giveaway from The Hub’s Spooksville, artwork from The Walking Dead Tribute, trailers for Infliction and Damned Love, and much more:

Night of the Living Deb Casting News: “Night of the Living Deb is an indie movie in development from producer Kyle Rankin (Battle of Shaker Heights, Infestation). Attached actors include David Krumholtz (“Numb3rs,” This is the End, Ray), Michael Cassidy (Argo, “Men at Work,” “The Oc”), Ray Wise (“Twin Peaks,” “Reaper,” “Mad Men”).

It’s a female-driven action-horror rom-com set in the world of a zombie apocalypse on Christmas.

The crowdfunding campaign is gaining popularity for its unusual approach: rather than the
See full article at DailyDead »

50 dedications at the end of movies (and what they mean)

Odd List Simon Brew 15 Nov 2013 - 07:08

Lots of films are dedicated to, or in memory of someone. But it's not always clear why. We've been finding out...

Back when Breaking Bad returned for its final batch of episodes in August 2013, it had a dedication at the end of it. The card read 'Dedicated to our friend Kevin Cordasco'. As it turned out, Kevin Cordasco was a 16-year old who had been battling cancer for seven years, who had met both Bryan Cranston and Vince Gilligan. Cordasco died before he could ever get to see the episode dedicated to him.

I found this such a moving story, that it got me wondering about the dedications that appear on films, and what the story behind them was. After all, the dedications are there for a reason. What I uncovered was some funny stories, mainly extremely sad ones, and some extremely moving dedications.
See full article at Den of Geek »

‘Ocean’s Eleven’ a reaffirmation of old-fashioned stardom

Movie stars, as we know them, are not so much dead in 2013 as much as they’re no longer making movies. Celebrity has stretched far beyond film or television; people become famous now without having accomplished much of anything, just for being at the right place at the right time, or tweeting out the right scandalous photo to set afire the comments sections at TMZ or Perez Hilton. Though movies cost more than they used to—both to make and to partake—they are less frequently headlined by a man or woman whose very presence ensures bankability. A handful of movie stars remain, yet even someone like Robert Downey, Jr. can only guarantee a movie will make back its profit and then some when he’s donned his Iron Man suit.

The closest Western society has to movie stars these days don’t make movies that gross hundreds of millions
See full article at SoundOnSight »

George Clooney Says He "Destroyed" The Role Of Batman, Weighs In On Ben Affleck's Casting

The year was 1997, the movie was "Batman & Robin," and it nearly destroyed a franchise and George Clooney's career. The reviled Joel Schumacher entry was easily the worst of the post-Tim Burton Batman films, with the nipple suit only being the first of the many problems with the flick. It ground the Warner Bros. property to a halt for almost a decade until Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" came along in 2005, and along with the flop of "The Peacemaker," ended Clooney's dalliance (at the time) with being a blockbuster leading man. (He rebounded by teaming up with auteurs Steven Soderbergh and David O. Russell for "Out Of Sight" and "Three Kings" in 1998 and 1999). But the actor is fully aware he wasn't the right man for the cape and cowl. Doing the rounds for Alfonso Cuarón's "Gravity," Clooney caught up with Empire magazine and when asked to weigh on
See full article at The Playlist »
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